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FALL 1980 

f Creatine 

^WOniail A quarterly, Governors State University, Park Forest South, IL 60466. 

Vol. 4, No. 2 FALL 1980 

A quarterly published at Governors State University under the auspices of the Provost's Office © 1980, Governors State University and Helen Hughes 

Helen E. Hughes, Editor 
Lynn Thomas Strauss, Managing Editor 
Joan Lewis, Editorial Consultant 
Suzanne Oliver, Graphic Designer 


Marge Sharp 

Donna Bandstra, Social Sciences 

Rev. Ellen Dohner, Religion 

Rita Durrant, League of American Penwomen 

Dottie Fisk, Children's Creativity 

Ann Gerhart, Women's Networking 

Harriet Gross, Sociology I Women's Studies 

Helene Guttman, Biological Sciences 

Mimi Kaplan, Library Resources 

Young Kim, Com m unications Science 

Harriet Marcus, Journalism 

Elizabeth Ohm, Library Resources 

Betye Saar, Fine Arts 

Marjorie Sharp, Human Relations Services 

Sara Shumer, Political Theory 

Em ily Wasiolek, Literature 






4 Stereotyping of The Aged 

by MoAge. ShaAp 

6 How Old Are You? 

by Atu ZWLi> 

7 Poems * 

by Joyce. lAWbmn 

8 Bibliography on Women And Aging 


10 Life in "The Pea Green Boat" 

by Lynn Thomca StAau&6 
12 A Time of Change 

by PhylLu Hu^man 
14 A "Marvelous Life" 

inteAview by Lynn > tAaju&6 
16 My Grandmother 

by Lynn Thomcu S&iaiU>6 


by Lucille. PeAeAAon 
26 Cherchez La Femme 

by Lucille. PeAeXAon 

28 For The Young At Heart 

by Pauline. Goldfcaxb 

29 Thinking Ahead 

by Nancy Hamilton 

31 Coping With Death 

by Suzannz PAeJ>cott 

36 Shadows 

by Linda Bzck 

37 Dying, An Integral Stage of 

The Human Phenomenon: 
Commentary on Writings of 
Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross 
by Waxy Lou Pogofifi 




Gray Panthers: First Decade 
From an Idea to a Reality: 
The Older Women's League 
by MaAge. SltaAp 
The 1981 White House Conference 
On Aging 

by MaAge. ShaAp 


by Helm E. Hughe* 


by Shannon lAoy 


by Helen E G Hughe* 

25 IV. BY US 

25 Ode To Fran Field 

by Edith LundboAg 

26 Smal I Biography 

by Lucille. PctexAon 

Cover photo of Annelies Romein 

Title suggested by work 
of Simone de Beauvoir 


Our guest editor far "The. 
Coming ofi Age" is MaAforie Sharp, 
M4. Sharp received her master's In 
guidance and counseling faom Governors 
State University in Park forest 
South, Illinois, As the senior 
citizen program coordinator far 
Monee Toi^mship she acted as consul- 
tant to Thornwood House senior 
citizen complex and Eastern Will 
County Senior Service. Center, where 
she was responsible far organizing 
the community farum far the 1981 
White House Conference on Aging far 
eastern Will County, 

Currently with Southwest Women 
Working Together, a grass roots 
organization farmed to meet the 
needs oft women in the community, 
Mar joule Is the Older Women's Program 
coordinator under a grant received 
faom the Retirement Research Founda- 
tion, The grant is designed to 
identify and respond to the needs 
oi mid- 11 fa and older women as they 
experience changes in lifestyle 
brought about, in part, by reduction 
ofi income, retirement, divorce and 

Marjorle's article on the 
stereotyping ol the aged introduces 
section 1, "About Us" by examining 
the negative attitudes that so many 
oft us hold toward older people. 

Thoughts on the question ofi 
what kind oft behavior is age.- 
appropriate are o^ered by Alls 

Also included here Is a bibli- 
ography outlining some ofi the 
excellent material available on the 
study o£ aging. 

The second section, "Becoming" 
tells tlie story o£ individual lives. 
It is in knowing our older citizens 
as individuals and in celebrating 
the contributions oft their lives 
that we can ^ind meaning in our 
own lives o 

Senior cltlze.ns have special 
needs and in "Ola Heeds," you'll 
learn about several organizations 
that have been actively working to 
meet those needs., The Gray Panther 
organization U> celebrating its 
10th anniversary and can point to 
many accomplishments* The Older 
Women's League [OWL] Is an emeAging 
organization with hard work ahead* 
Our guest editor's report on the 
White House Conference on Aging 
details the ei farts made by our 
government on behalf oft its 
seniors and In farms us oft the plans 
being made far the failure * 

In "By Us," we have poems, 
biographies , testimonies and photo- 
graphs created by people oveA 
65 years 0^ age a A strong glow oft 
creativity Is evidenced in their 

Tliinklng about aging leads 
naturally to thinking about death. 
In "final Thouglits," Suzanne Prescott 
and Linda Beck share reactions to 
facing the death oft a parent. And 
Mary Lou Rogofifi comments on the 
work 0^ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and 
her Influential book, On Veath And 

In Helen's filnal "Letter from 
Holland" (she will be home again 
soon) she describes a Women's 
House in Ven Hague and reelects on 
the aging ofi her own parents* 

finally Shannon Troy reviews 
LI fa A{)ter youth: female, forty— 
What Next ? by Ruth Harriet Jacobs, 

OuA editor's report faom Copenhagen, 
Helen shares her experiences and 
reactions fallowing attendance at 
the United Nations International . 
Women's Conference In July* 

I. out Us 

bij l\aA.Qz Sktvip 

The 1070 census indicated that 
over 10$ of the total population in 
the United States was over the age 
of 65 and that approximately half 
of these individuals were 75 or 
older. The current census is 
expected to show an increase of 
46$ of those over age 65 hrought 
about by the steady improvements 
in medical knowledge and health 
care The lower mortality rate 
among the elderly, the decrease in 
the birthrate and the coming of age 
of those born during the early 
1Q50 f s baby boom all lead to a 
projection of the 65 plus population 
reaching 26.5$ or 35.2 million persons. 

Taking into consideration this 
projected increase in the aged 
population, perhaps we should 
reevaluate our present emphasis 
on youth and take a closer look at 
how we currently view the elderly. 

Fred Davis in Myths and Realities 
About Senior Americans states: 
"Gontemporary society, in America, 
has for many years held negative 
attitudes about old people. These 
attitudes are held by many persons, 
even the elderly themselves. The 
aged are perceived as a devalued and 
deviant societal minority with life 
styles that appear to society in 
general, as self-imposed negligence 
and indifference." 

This concurs with what I have 
encountered. Working in the field 
of aging I am freguently confronted 
with the negative attitudes of 
individuals towards the elderly. 

Prior to writing this article I 
conducted a mini -survey of twenty-five 
individuals ranging in age from 19-55 
regarding personal stereotypes 
associated with the elderly. Each in- 
dividual was asked to list at least 
ten adjectives to describe the 
physical and personality character- 
istics they would use to describe 
an elderly person. 

Of the 48 different adjectives 
and descriptive phrases given, an 
overwhelming 72* were negative: 
senile, argumentative, thoughtless, 
poor listeners, wrinkled, faded, 
debilitated, unattractive, slovenly, 
condescending, boring, etc. The 
28$ which were positive included: 
caring, nurturing, knowledgeable, 
insightful, kind, and humorous 

Although many of the adjectives 
were given more than once, the word 
"senile" was used fourteen times. 
According to Dr c Lionel Corbett 
at a recent seminar on aging held 
at Governors State University, less 
than 5$ of the elderly can be diag- 
nosed as seni le. 

Does this indicate that most 
people believe senility is inevitable? 
Looney (1973) indicates it is not. 
Activity, involvement and learning 
new experiences are effective in 
measurably slowing down this process. 
In my work with middle-class, non- 
institutionalized elderly I have 
not found them to be "senile " 
Rather, I find them to be alert, 
active, insightful and knowledgeable. 
Is it possible we confuse the normal 
slowing down of physical responses 
that comes with aging as "senility"? 


Personality descriptions such as 
argumentative, opinionated, rigid 
and cranky are the negative view of 
what I see as fiesty, involved, 
alive and concerned individuals 
whose will to live and participate 
is strong and healthy., 

Two interesting bits of information 
also surfaced: 1) of those who used 
positive adjectives, none gave any 
related to physical appearances. 
(Perhaps this is an indication that 
beauty is only associated with youth.) 
2) When subsequently asked to list 
adjectives related to youth, the 
predominant response was a positive 
6]%, Only three individuals declined 
to participate stating they could not 
generalize for a particular group. 

I take exception to the negative, 
or lack of positive, adjectives to 
describe physical appearances,, 
Perhaps the trite saying "Beauty is 
in the eyes of the beholder" has 
some validity here In the pictures 
included in this issue I see much 

I am reminded of a "before" and 
"after" picture I once saw of a 
45 year old woman who had undergone 
plastic surgery to remove excessive 
wrinkles from her face. The "before" 
picture showed a warm face, full of 
character lines, a face that reflected 
early years spent outdoors in the 
sun and wind pursuing a love of 
sailing. The "after" picture 
showed a face devoid of character. 
Gone were the lines of laughter 
around the eyes and mouth <, Gone 
were the brow lines of experience. 
What remained was a smooth mask. Is 
this beauty? The faces of the 
elderly reflect the story of their 
lives. The joys and sadness, births 
and deaths, hopes and dreams. . . othere 
for all to see. This, to me, is 
beauty. The beauty of life. 

Those of us who have yet to 
reach "old age" might stop and think 
about these negative attitudes: 1) 
what affect will they have on our 

own self-image as we approach the 
time when we must acknowledge that 
we are "old"? and 2) what affect do 
they have on the behavior of the 
elderly today? 

The aging person often falls 
victim to these negative stereotypes. 
Since a person tends to become what 
he believes he will become, negative 
attitudes often support negative 
sel f -evaluation . There are relatively 
few traits which may be described 
as characteristic of old age, and 
there are no traits which are 
characteristic of the aged alone. 
Unfortunately, the attitudes of the 
young are so deeply internalized 
that when they grow old, they tend 
to think of themselves in a negative 
way, thus falling victim to a 
self-fulfilling prophesy,, 

My perception of the elderly is 
that there are no stereotypes. The 
personality characteristics of the 
elderly range through the full gamut 
found in any group,, What we are at 
25 or 50 is what we will be at 55 
or 80, I am inclined to agree with 
a quote by B. K. Smith: "The person 
who reaches 60 or 70 or 80 in a 
state of reasonable health carries 
within him the person he was at 25 
or 30 or 40. The weight of responsi- 
bilities or energies or desires may 
have shifted, but he maintains the 
knowledge and feelings, desires and 
dislikes, similar to those character- 
istics of the person he was before. 
Perhaps this is the most important 
lesson to be learned." 

Gtiow old atony ivtth me 
The, beMt u> yet to be 
The. ljut oi li^e, fan wlvich 
the. {\iri6t t& made. 

[faom Rabbt Ben EzHxi by RobeAt llnowntng) 


How old are you? 

That question to I lows you all of 

your days. 

There is a difference between maturing 

and aging. One definition of mature 

is "complete in natural growth and 

development." One definition of 

aging is "to bring to maturity or 

a state fit for use." Consequently, 

I believe that one should never 

consider the mind "mature." 

We are always striving to categorize 
each other. Every person, in every 
socio-cultural setting has heard: 

"You're not old enough to do that," 

"Act your age," 

"Your're too old to be doing that." 
Depending, of course, upon how the 
teller wished to modify behavior. 
A niche for everyone and everyone 
in his/her niche. 

How old am I? 

d enough that I am a grandmother, 
Young enough to be a student. 

d enough to bake a cake, 
Young enough to enjoy licking the 
xing bowl . 

How old is she? 

d enough to roast a turkey, 
Young enough to want to "win" her 
sh on the wishbone. 

d enough to real ize that the ocean 
s too big to swim, 
Young enough to enjoy a water fight 
th squirt guns and hoses. 

How old is he? 

d enough to know that soap bubbles 

Young enough to enjoy blowing them 
Old enough to walk on the moon, 
Young enough to delight in flying 
paper airplanes. 

How old are they? 

Old enough to realize the emotional 
and physical ramifications of love, 
Young enough to be willing to travel 
through valleys in order to reach 
great heights. 

Don't worry about aging — growing old 
chronologically; there is no 
"wrongness" in being either chronolog- 
ical ly young, old, or middle aged. 
"Wrongness" is in having the gift of 
enjoying and appreciating life and 
not using it. Be curious. Be joyful. 
Be tolerant. Be aware. Love Life. 

By A-U6 ElLti 


Skin peeling off a window 
Eyes folding into light 
Hands gentled into loving 
Heart shimmering in sight 


Spiders attacking eyes 
Rivlets flowing down 
Drooping folding 
Furrowed skinscape 
Down hi I I I grow 
Mind and body cultivated 
By pain and joy 
No longer smooth 
Untouched untried - 
A del icious raisin 
With wisdom inside,. 

by Joijcz IWUbnoiYi 


GENERATIONS. Sp/tuig 79S0. Uafe 
Sommers, guest editor. Available 
faom: Western Gerontological Society, 
785 Market St , Suite 1114, San 
Erancisco, CA 94103; $2,00, 
An entire issue devoted to older 
women, covering such topics as 
research, sexuality, and work. 


WHAT NEXT? Rath H. Jacob*. 1979, 17 6p, 

Available faom: Beacon Press, 

25 Beacon St., Boston, A(A Oil OS; 

$10.95 hardback. A study on the. 

roles oh older women in this society. 

LiMUan E. Troll pet at. 1977, 21 6p. 
Available, faom: ?n.zntice.-Hall, Inc. 
Englewood CUM*, NJ 07632; ?3.95 e 

OLDER WOMEN. 1978. Available. faom: 
Women* & Education Resources, University 
ofi Wisconsin-Extension, 610 Langdon St. 
Madison, WI 53706; $1.50 Packet 
with &act sheets and 
bi.bJtiogtiaphi.c6 . 

National Commission on the Observance 
oh International Women' A Year. 1977, 
39p. Available fitiom: US Government 
Printing O^face, Washington, VC 20402; 
ottdeA No. 052-003-00490-9; $1.25. 

RESOURCES. Sara Goodman. 1979, 55p. 
Write: Sara Goodman, 34 Laurel Lane, 
Longmeadow, MA 01106. Annotated 

Erances Tenenbaum. 1979, 191 p. 
Available faom: Houghton Mi^lin Co. 
Two Park St., Boston, MA 02107; 
$14.95 hardback, $7.95 paperback. 
A guide to opportunities in education, 
employment, political action, and 
volunteer work. 

Weinstock. 1978, 120p o Available 
faom: Educational Eacitities Laborator- 
ies, AEV, 680 Ei^th Ave*, New York, 
NY 10019; $8.00. 

VOLUNTEER. Ruth Ekstrom et al. 1977, 
225p. Available faom: Ruth Ekstrom, 
Educational Testing Service, Princeton, 
MJ 08541; $3.00. 
A workbook far the re-entry woman. 

so you want to go back to school: 

Elinor Lenz and Marjorie H . Shaevitz. 
1977, 252p. Available faom: McGraw-Hill 
Book Co., 1221 Avenue o& the Americas, 
New York, NY 10020; $4.95. 

ING TO SCHOOL. Jerold W. Apps 1978, 
237 p. Available faom: McGraw-Hill 
Book Co., 


1978, 4p. each . Available faom: 
Pension Rights Center, Room 1019, 
1346 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, 
VC 20036; send $.25 and selfaaddressed 
stamped envelope far each copy. 

GUIDE FOR WOMEN. 7977, 59p. 
Available faom: Women's Equity Action 
League, 733 15th St a NW, Washington, 
VC 20005; $1.00. prepaid. 


ROLES OE MEN AMP WOMEN. 7979, 32 3p 
Available, finom: Social Secunlty 
Admlnl&tnatlon, Rm 446, Attmeyen 
Sldg., 6401 SecunlZy Blvd Q , BaWmone, 
MP 21235; tingle, copy face.* 

1979. 12p. Available {nom: Consumen 
lnfionmatlon Centen, Pueblo, CO 
81009; face. 

1979. Available {nom; EDC/WEEAP 

Dlstnlbutlon Centex, 39 Ckapel St a 
Newton, ISA 02160 o $5 o 00 o 

ANP FILM. Canol Hollenshead et at. 
1977 , 52p Q Available {nom: Institute 
o& Gerontology Publication* , 520 East 
Llbenty St., Ann Anbon, MI 48109; 
$3.00 prepaid. An annotated list ofa 
100 nesounces. 

1977, 6p. Available {nom: Catalyst, 
14 East 60th St., New Yonk, NY 10022; 
$K50. Blbllognaphy 

FULFILLMENT. US i ouse o£ Representa- 
tives Select Committee on Aging. 1978, 
Available faom: US Government 
Pnlntlng O^lce, Washington, VC 20402. 
Pant I, onden no. 052-070-04838-7, 
$4 a 25; Pant II, onden no. 
052-070-04839-5, $2.75. Pant I Is a 
compendium o& papers on public policy 
Issues and pnoblems a^ectlnp women 
age 40-60. Pant II Is an annotated 

WOMEN ON CAMPUS. 1978. 5p, 
Available finom: Project on the Status 
and Education Oft Women, Association 
oft Amexlcan Colleges, 1818 R St. 
NW, Washington, PC 20009; single 
copy face. A summary ofi the Act, 
which became elective Jan. 1, 1979 
Is Included. 

STUVENT. Catalyst Publications. 
SELF-RELIANCE Senles. $1.75. 
Available finom: Catalyst, 14 East 
60th St. New Yonk, NY 10022. 

COLLEGES. Jack MexxAow. 1978, 59p. 
Available {rom: ERIC Document 
Repnoduction Service, Box 190 Antington, 
l/A 222/0. ED 166 367, Results faom 
a study o£ 350 pnognams. 

[Material {on this blbllognaphy was 
gathened {nom RESOURCE ROUNDUP: pnlnted 
by Women' s Educational EqulXy 
Communications Netioonk a 
1855 Volsom St a San Francisco, CA 94103) 


bij Lynn ThomaA S&iauAA 

Kate Steichen, now 72, has 
lived in Wilton, Connecticut since 
1943 when she and her "beloved 
friend of 50 years," Carol Silverberg 
anchored their home "The Pea Green 
Boat" next to a beautiful Wilton 

The appreciation that Hiss 
Steichen feels for the abundance 
of the world outside her home is 
reflected within through the romp- 
ings of her three cats, and a wealth 
of books, paintings, sculptures, 
and photographs. 

Miss Silverberg's death last year 
has left Kate the sole skipper of 
"The Pea Green Boat" and helped 
her decide to share some of her 
treasures with the community that 
has meant so much to her. Because 
the Wilton Library "has always been 
so wonderful to Carol and me," 

she donated 50 signed first editions 
to its annual rare book auction 
this fall. 

Looking out over the terrace 
one is reminded by the UN flag 
which has flown there in the woods 
since 1943 that Kate has roots 
extending far beyond Connecticut, 
Her birthplace is France where she 
grew up in the village of Voulangis 
in the Brie country. She early 
developed an interest in singing. 
Coming to America as a child speaking 
only French, she made her "debut" 
at the age of six in Edgartown, Mass. 
singing French folksongs, with "La 
Marseillaise" as her encore. Before 
pursuing a career in book publishing 
she sang with the WPA opera and con- 
cert artists' project,. 

Her roots extend as well to 
Luxembourg, the ancestral home of 
her father photographer Edward 
Steichen. Mr. Steichen is best 
known for his great exhibit "The 
Family of Man," done while he was 
director of photography at the 
Museum of Modern Art. 

Earlier this year Miss Steichen 
visited Luxembourg for the first time. 
Dozens of cousins greeted her with 
dozens of roses and proudly intro- 
duced her to everyone from the 
Grand Duchess to the youngest 
Steichen. While there she presented 
her gift of three sets of her 
adored late stepmother Dana Steichen' s 
only book Beethoven's Beloved , 
to the Luxembourg National Public 
Library and the new Beethoven Museum 
at Vianden. 

"The giving was a joy," said 
Miss Steichen. 

Many of the books Miss Steichen 
donated to the Wilton Library for 
auction were acquired during her ten 
years working as administrative 
assistant to the editor-in-chief 
of Doubleday & Company. During 


those years she lived with Miss Of her life in "The Pea Green 

Silverberg in a third floor walkup Boat," she says, "We had a magnificent 

just off Patchin Place in the Village, last 10 years which we mostly 

overlooking the doorways of e e. devoted to work for the United 

cummings, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Nations." She adds, "We had a 

Marion Morehouse and Pjuna Barnes. wonderful time all our lives, 

Of what Miss Steichen calls 
her Doubleday Days she says, "I 
had a ball in publishing, it was 
hard work and hard play." 

All of Kate's life seems to 
hold a warm and vibrant richness. Since 
retiring from Doubleday Kate and 
Carol manned the front lines of many 
a Wilton battle. They helped to 
save the Hurl butt Street School house, 
which is now an historic site and 
community center. They worked to 
found Wilton's AID (Animals in 
Distress), protested the aerial 
spraying of trees, and worked for 
the creation of the new Wilton Library. 

Kate spent childhood summers 
on the Kent, Connecticut farm of her 
aunt and uncle. 

"It was Aunt Charlotte who 
inculcated me in this," she says, 
gesturing toward the pond. "If 
it wasn't for her I wouldn't have 
this place. I was enormously 
enriched by being with her." 

"Every year from when I was 
a young girl I would be given a 
bunch of goslings or a young heifer 
to raise myself. Of course they 
all ended up in the pot, but I never 
knew that. I did my work and had 
my chores: we didn't have electri- 
city and we had 20-something lamps 
to clean every morning. But after 
lunch I would be out in my bloomers, 
middy blouse and bare feet, out on 
my own." 

In "Aunt Kate" (an affectionate 
local nickname) the Steichen spirit 
has shone bright. The fabric of 
her life has been rich in color 
and in style. 

which is also a Steichen trait." 



by VkijttUi Madman 

Becoming a senior citizen, just 
like starting school or becoming a 
teenager, is a time of change. For 
some it is a time of isolation, despair 
and a feeling that the best of life 
is over. For others, it is a time 
of life which is both exciting and 
chal lenging. 

"Don't be afraid to retire — it's 
wonderful," advises Cleone Kamphenkel. 
"You have to keep busy and sometimes 
have to work at getting yourself 
out and going. But if you look 
around there is always someone worse 
off than yourself." 

Cleone, a widow who lives alone 
in her Monee home, follows her own 
advice. She is president of the 
Women's Guild at St c Paul's United 
Church of Christ, helps with the 
Church's Bible School, is a member 
of Delta Kappa Gamma and the Monee 
Women's Club. As a retired teacher, 
she also does some substitute 
teaching in area schools. 

Traveling is Cleone's hobby „ This 
summer she visited North Carolina and 
Williamsburg, Virginia. Most of the 
time she travels with Lucy, a friend 
she met a few years ago on a 
tour of Europe. Together, Lucy and 
Cleone have made three trips to 
Hawaii, where they rent an apartment 
for a month and live like the natives. 
Lucy, like Cleone, is a retired 
teacher and the widow of a minister. 
The two have enjoyed seeing much of 
the United States together. 

Cleone spends holidays with her 
daughter, son-in-law, an 18 year 
old grandson, and a granddaughter 
who is in college. She finds that 
Sundays and evenings can sometimes 
be lonely. She tries to fill these 
long hours with visiting friends, 
knitting, needlepoint, baking, and 
canning her specialty, dilly beans. 

Cleone's major concern is for her 
future. "I don't want to become sick 
and become a burden. Health is more 
important than wealth." 

91 -year-old Leo I a Emde agrees 
with Cleone: "I'm independent 
and like to do things for myself. It 
takes me longer to do things now than 
it used to, but I hope I never 
become a burden to my family." 

Leola lives in her own apartment, 
which her daughter and son-in-law 
built for her at the back of their 
Monee home. She has been a widow 
since 1939. Even though her hands 
are crippled with arthritis she 
does everything but her laundry 
for herself. 

Keeping up her apartment, cooking 
meals, attending Women's Guild, and 
the Monee Senior Citizens at St. 
Paul's United Church of Christ 
occupy Leola's days. She also makes 
jam, bread and butter pickles and 
likes to write letters to her friends. 
"I never stop with one page when I 
write letters; there are always 
three or four pages," says Leola. 
"With arthritis I do not write as 


we I I as I used to, but everyone 
says they can read it, so I keep 
writing." One of the people with 
whom Leo I a corresponds is her aunt who 
is 100 years old. 

Because her eyesight is not as 
good as it once was, she no longer 
goes out alone, but her daughter 
and friends take her shopping, for 
rides and out to luncho She enjoys 
visiting her grandson and his wife 
who live in Beecher with their two 
children. Leola f s eyes light up 
when she talks about her two great- 
grandchildren and she proudly displays 
their pictures. 

Evenings are sometimes long for 
Leola, too, and she wishes that her 
arthritis did not keep her from 
crocheting, sewing and playing the 
piano as she used to do. Evenings 
are taken up with reading, as much as 
her eyesight will allow, and watching 

Ruth and Dan Brunnick have an 
apartment in Thornwood House, a 
senior citizen residence in Park 
Forest South, But with all the 
activities they are involved in, 
they do not spend much time there. 

"As long as we're able to go — 
we work," commented Dan "I never 
had time for much social life before 
I retired because I did shift work 
and Ruth had five children to raise." 
Ruth was, however, active in church 
and community work while she was 
raising her fami ly. 

Family still keeps the Brunnicks 
busy. With eleven grandchildren and 
three great-grandchildren there are 
many birthdays and holidays to 
celebrate together with those who 
live nearby. A trip to Kansas City 
is planned for Easter to visit family 

Dan is coordinator of the Thornwood 
House Association to which all of 
the building's residents belong, Ruth 
is the program chairman. Under their 
guidance Thornwood House residents 

have been active in village affairs 
acting as recorders and leaders 
for town meetings, entering a float 
in the Labor Day parade, sponsoring 
a first place baseball team for two 
years in a row and winning the Park 
Forest South Booster of the Year 
Award as an association. 

"We have to keep busy so that we 
don't have time to realize that we are 
getting old," says Ruth„ Busy they 
are! Being interested in keeping up 
with what is going on in the world, 
they took a five week course in 
political science at Governors State 
University. They also are members 
of the Senior Action Forum, the 
Senior Citizens Advisory Board at 
Prairie State College and the Crete 
Upper Crust of which Dan is vice- 
president. Ruth even finds time to 
play the piano at Thornwood House 
for Mass. 

Dan and Ruth feel the major con- 
cerns of Eastern Will County senior 
citizens are: 1) dissatisfaction 
with medicare, since it does not 
cover the entire cost of medical 
care and doctors' fees; 2) the 
continuous rise in rents for 
people on fixed incomes and the 
lack of a housing authority in 
Will County outside of Jol iet, 
which makes it impossible for 
area residents to get rent relief 
through section 8 housing; and 
3) the lack of public transporta- 
tion to doctors and shopping for 
those who are not able to drive. 
These concerns will be voiced by 
local representatives to the 
White House Conference on Aging. 

Although Leola told me that "As 
one gets older, one I ives in the 
past quite a bit," it was evident 
that a I I the seniors I interviewed 
were active people — and definitely 
I iving in the 1980's. 



InteAview by Lynn S£taaA.6 

How much can you learn of a life- 
time in one hour? 

What was it like to live through 
two world wars, all of aviation history 
and a marriage of 52 years? 

How is a woman's lifetime in 
Holland different — if it is — from the 
life of a woman spent in America? 

These were just some of the ques- 
tions I had in mind when the editor 
arranged for me to meet Catherina 
Theodora Henny, a vigorous 81 -year- 
old Dutch lady living with her husband 
in their apartment in The Hague. 

Mrs. Henny gave some advice, some 
impressions and shared with me some 

"Some things you remember all 
your life", she said with a smile, 
describing herself as a young girl 
with long shining red hair, riding 
the bus wearing a black velvet coat. 
"A man said to me, 'Please don't get 
off yet! I want to look at you a 
bit longer,,'" 

Mrs. Henny also remembers well 
that after only one year of marriage, 
her father died and her husband lost 
his job. "I took up knitting again," 
she says. "I worked 10 or 12 hours a 
day. I sold jumpers for 35fl. (about 
17 american dollars) including the 
woo I . " 

One of the hardships of those 
times was that Mrs. Henny was unable 

to live with her husband and could 
only visit with him weekends at a 
friend's home. Therefore they had 
no children and Mrs. Henny says she's 
not sure what it would have been like 
to be a parent — but she doesn't miss 

In living through the second 
world war, Mrs. Henny experienced many 
things. "In one way it was a terrible 
time" she recalls, "But then again, 
you knew who your friends were." 

As a girl, Mrs. Henny wanted to 
go to gymnasium (university) but 
had to attend a girl's school instead, 
where she learned to cook and keep 

Her artistic ability was dis- 
covered at age 16 by the famous Dutch 
artist Anton Pieck, when he saw one 
of her etchings in someone's home 
and asked her to study and work with 
him. She became his apprentice and 
sold her work. 

When describing herself, Mrs. 
Henny says, "I am not so feminine. 
I am a little bit manly, I don't 
like to wear earrings. I am a little 
bit classic." 

She is busy all day„ Mrs. Henny 
has been driving her own car for 
66 years. Sometimes she does her 
grocery shopping on her bicycle and 
she plays golf several times a week, 
weather permitting. 

She has been a "member of honor" 
in her golf club for 60 years. And 
many years ago she founded the first 
Women's Golf Commission In Holland. 
She also served as president of her 
local club until stepping down at 
age 65. 

"We travel many places with the 
golf club; we have tea after the game 
and it is very nice" says Mrs. Henny. 
"When I'm a little bit tired, I go 
play golf and come home feeling fine." 


When asked what she thinks of the 
women's movement, Mrs. Henny says, 
"I I i ke that women have more to say 
now. But its not all to the good — 
some women can't cook and they 
aren't there when the children come 
home from school. The children 
aged 13 or 14 are on drugs, are stealing, 
are more aggressive — that was unknown 
in my day." 

At 81 years of age Mrs Henny has 
very few complaints. She says, 
quite convincingly, "I had a marvel- 
ous life." She attributes much of 
her happy life to having had good 

When asked how she stays so 
healthy, she advises, "Keep busy. 
Unless it's very, very needed, don't 
take pills. Be systematic, do first 
the thing you have to do, then the 
thing you want to do." 

Mrs. Henny recently discovered 
that a childhood friend who had 
lived next door to her family and 
was I i ke a sister to her, is once 
again living in an apartment close 
to her. 

"Now," says Mrs. Henny, "now, 
we will finish as we started." 



by Lynn Tkomcu S£/iauA6 

I've known my grandmother all my 
life and still she doesn't share much 
about the things that matter to her. 
Now in her eighties and living in 
a senior citizens' high rise in 
Chicago, I feel closer to her than 
at any other time in my life. 

She enjoys my children, 3 of her 
many great-grandchildren, much more 
I'm sure, than she enjoyed my 
brother and sisters and I when we 
lived together in my grandparents' 
small cramped apartment. 

When I ask Nany about her own 
childhood in a small Indiana town 
and her early married life— she 
gets angry for my asking. She doesn't 
want to remember her own mother's 
early death or collecting scraps 
of coal off Chicago streets during 
the depression. She did tell me 
once that it was a great joy to 
her when she and Poppy moved their 
family into an apartment building 
that had central heating. 

From the time I was three until 
I was eight years old we lived 
with Nany and Poppy in their four 
room flat. They ran a cigar store 
next to where we lived. There was 
a huge double yard behind the house 
and a path leading to the back door 
of the store. 

Nany was always working in the 
store; cleaning, ordering, organizing 
stock or waiting on customers. She 
didn't play with us kids much but 
she let us help her in the store. We 
washed the candy counter windows, 
carried pop bottles to the dark 
cellar and even waited on customers 
when we were tall enough. 

Nany didn't go out much, but 
everyone came into the store — so 
she knew everyone. The firemen 

from the fire station, the lady from 
the bakery, the nurses from the old 
folks home across the street. Everyone 
came in to buy cigarettes, gum, maga- 
zines, hand dipped ice cream cones 
in summer and warm bottles of Kayo 
pop in the winter. 

There was no phone or bathroom in 
the store and I remember Nany 
rushing back and forth on the path 
between the store and the house. She 
was always working. The store was 
open six days a week from 8 AM to 
9 PM. Often my mother would work 
in the store to give Nany a break 
and she would sit down and put her 
feet up and read a newspaper or 
magazine before going back to work. 
I don't remember her taking much 
time out to eat or sleep. 

When Nany had to work too hard, I 
didn't notice how pretty she was. 
Now there are times when she looks 
absolutely glamorous. She is petite 
and graceful and her hair— which she 
has always done herself— is still 
shiny and beautiful. She likes to 
wear bright colors, especially green. 
For special evening celebrations 
she wears a lovely floor length 
green and silver satiny dress and she 
sparkles as she glides along dancing 
with my brother or my father. 

One of her hobbies is playing 
pool in the recreation room in her 
building. And she will shyly, but 
proudly admit that she can beat 
almost everyone including the men. 

Nany has given me many gifts in 
my life. As a child she gave me 
candy, ice cream and comic books and 
even now when she visits, she always 
brings a shopping bag with gifts 
of food, She let me live with her 
when I was a small child and my 
parents could find no place for us 
to live. I appreciate now all that 
she shared with me during those 
years. She gave me the model of a 
woman working outside the home 
(though always close by). She 
gave me the model of an affectionate 


marital relationship as I watched my 
grandfather massage her weary feet 
at night. She gave me the model of 
a physically strong and independent 
woman who traveled alone on city 
buses to the Loop and beyond. And 
after my grandfather died and their 
store was torn down, she gave me a 
model of a woman who could survive 
and survive well . 

And now she continues to give me 
love and caring as she hesitates to 
tell my four year old daughter her 
own true age because she thinks it 
might scare her to imagine a person 
could be that old. And she calls 
me to see how I am and gives me 
money for my birthday that she 
cannot afford. I accept her gifts 
as I know she accepts my love for 
her— with deep appreciation, though 
of course Nany and I never talk of 
these things. 


fi ! ; * i \ s 



Ten years ago Maggie Kuhn faced 
forced retirement from a long career 
of involvement. She was determined 
to remain in the mainstream, working 
for social change rather than be 
put out to pasture c So she sent a 
memo to five of her friends who 
had worked with her in the Presby- 
terian Church and were also "of 
retirement age " "Older persons 
in our society constitute a great 
national resource which has largely 
been unrecognized, undervalued, and 
unused," she wrote,, "The purpose 
of our meeting Is to consider how 
retirees can be involved in new and 
really significant ways.... There 
should be no limit to our thinking 
and dreaming." 

Dream as they did they never 
imagined they were launching what 
would become a unique intergenera- 
tional movement with a network of 
over 100 local groups in 35 states 
and over 50,000 supporters across 
the nation. Nor did they forsee 
Maggie Kuhn becoming a national 
leader and spokesperson. 

As Gray Panthers have worked 
to develop new ways of thinking and 
new models in society, they have also 
strived to create an organization 
which breaks away from the traditional 

The Gray Panthers felt it was 
crucial that no one should be 
excluded because of economic, social, 
or political circumstances. Thus 
the ideas of membership, dues, 

qualifications and credentials were 
rejected; anyone could participate 
whether they worked within a local 
group or not as long as s/he was In 
general agreement with the goals and 
purposes of the Gray Panthers. 

A second basic principle was that 
all ages were to be included and 
there would be no seniority. Younger 
members were encouraged and welcomed. 
Initially, however, the younger 
people, dubbed ^ubs 1 felt they were 
not taken seriously,, This led, in 
1972, to a vigorous protest in which 
the younger members accused their 
older colleagues of practicing a 
form of ageism. They demanded a 
revision of the "Purposes and Goals" 
so that they included all ages. 

The Gray Panthers were conceived 
as a grassroots organization and 
to that end a series of local groups 
were started. Hence they were 
called networks to exemplify both 
their autonomy and yet their inter- 
dependence. From the first few 
groups the movement has indeed become 
a network with over 100 groups working 
on a variety of local, state and 
national issues. The Gray Panthers 
have avoided the bl ight of most 
organizations — bureaucracy. With 
over 50,000 members there is a 
national office staff of only six. 
And as much as possible problems are 
dealt with on an individual basis. 

Gray Panthers have emphasized 
shared decision making between its 
national staff, a steering committee 
with representatives from across 
the nation and local network conveners, 
And to ensure that every voice is 
heard a national convention is 
held every two years where all the 
members share in the formulation of 
national programs and policies. 
The major decisions are then acted 
upon by the steering committee and 
the national office. 


But perhaps the most Important 
achievement of the past decade is 
the most intangible — that of changing 
the way a nation thinks about its 
older people. How do you measure 
this impact? There are some concrete 
examples* Who would have envisioned 
ten years ago seeing hair coloring 
ads espousing the beauty of gray 
hair? Television and film portraying 
an increasing number of positive 
images of older people? Colleges 
and universities instituting gerontol- 
ogy and geriatric programs and recruit- 
ing older students? A mushrooming 
awareness among older persons that 
they do indeed have something to 

As we enter into this 
it is a time for renewal 
to our role as activists 
and as an organizational 
on human I iberation. As 
we must constantly keep 

new decade 
of dedication 
and advocates 
mode I based 
we do so 
in mind that 

whatever our age, we are all inter- 
related and interdependent and that 
the issues which we work for — health 
maintenance, adequate income, 
accessible and affordable transporta- 
tion, nursing home reform and housing 
options to name a few—reflect our 
shared humanity. As Maggie put it 
at our most recent convention, "We 
have the sun and the moon and the 
people on our side, we have hope 
and a vision of tomorrow, but most 
of all we have each other." 

the. JuZy/AuguAt 1980 1&6U& o£ 

Gnay Vanthvi UoAwnk. 3635 Ckz&tnwt 

Sbiidt VkiladelpkU, PA. 19104) 



In 1974 Gray Panthers went after 
the American Medical Association by 
staging guerilla theater skits 
outside the AMA convention in Chicago, 
Gray Panthers dressed as doctors 
and nurses came to the aid of the 
stricken AMA, but — alas — were unable 
to find their patient's "heart." 


Gray Panthers were the first 
group to organize people across 
the country to reform nursing homes. 
Springing out of their work was the 
book Nursing Homes; A Citizens Action 
Guide, written and researched by 
Gray Panthers Linda Horn and El ma 
Griesel. In 1975, Gray Panthers 
Long Term Care Action Project formed 
the National Citizens Coalition for 
Nursing Home Reform. 


For the past six years Gray 
Panthers have been monitoring the 
media in an effort to isolate and 
eliminate negative portrayals of 
old people. The National Gray 
Panther Media Watch Task Force saw 
the fruits of their labor on February 
26, 1979 when the "Lou Grant Show" 
was aired. Media Watch Chairperson 
Lydia Bragger hailed it as "the best, 
the very best show about older people 
that we have seen yet." The National 
Gray Panther office, the Media Watch 
Task Force and Gray Panthers on the 
west coast were but a few of the 
people contacted to gather ideas and 
information for the show. 


After an official stance was taken 
in June, 1976 opposing mandatory 
retirement, the Gray Panthers lobbied 
extensively for legislation which 
would put an end to the practice. 


In 1978 they won a partial victory 
which raised the age of mandatory 
retirement to 70. They continue to 
lobby for a complete lifting of 
the age I imit. 

tion to regulate the industry and new 
FDA regulations to curb abuse in the 


On October 18, 1978, the Gray 
Panthers filed a class action petition 
before the Federal Reserve Board and 
four other federal agencies e They 
sought to raise interest rates on 
small saver accounts. The amount at 
issue was $17.5 bAJULion per annum — 
the difference between maximum rates 
paid to small savers and the free 
enterprise market rates paid to the 

Labelling the government's maximum 
interest rates on small savings "the 
greatest fraud in American history," 
the Gray Panthers almost single 
handed I y campaigned and testified 
for over a year. 

Fourteen months after the filing of 
this class action administrative 
petition, following five congressional 
hearings, combined with support from 
numerous minority women and consumer 
allies, the regulatory bodies partially 
capitulated. They agreed to raise 
the small saver passbook rate by 
$1.2 billion a year and to permit a 
new thirty-month small saver certificate 
bearing high interest in denominations 
as small as ten dollars. 


Merging with Ralph Nader's Retired 
Professional Action Group in 1974 
which had just completed an extensive 
16 month investigation of the sale of 
hearing aids, Gray Panthers helped 
publish and distribute their report 
entitled Paying Through The Ear . The 
report described instances of fraud 
and suggested model laws for the 
regulation of hearing aid dealers. In 
the following months old and young 
Gray Panthers testified at several 
hearings on the widespread abuse in 
the sale of hearing aids. Their efforts 
resulted in the enactment of I eg i si a- 




by Mange. SkaAp 

It's the week of October 9, 
1980 and over 400 women from all 
parts of the country have gathered 
in Des Moines, Iowa for a mini -confer- 
ence on older women. They are defin- 
ing the problems and offering 
solutions to develop an older women's 
platform to be given to delegates 
to the 1981 White House Conference 
on Aging scheduled to convene in 
Washington, D.C. in December of 

Two remarkable women, Tish 
Sommers, 66, and Laurie Shields, 
60, of Oakland, California, co-found- 
ers of the Alliance for Displaced 
Homemakers, have been working on 
an idea they feel is vital if older 
women are to have any say about 
their lives. They have asked the 
women to stay an extra day, at their 
own expense, to "birth" a new 
organization. An organization, 
according to Ms. Sommers, which will 
deal only with the concerns of the 
older woman, with a platform evolved 

from the problems defined durinq the 
last two days, a concrete plan of 
action, and a democratically elected 
leadership. A grass-roots activist 
organization to be called "The Older 
Women's League." 

Perhaps the best way to describe 
the ideas and concerns that went 
into establishing this new organiza- 
tion is to use Tish's own words as they 
appeared in Cover Letter , a periodical 
published by the Older Women's 
League Educational Fund, a two-year 
non-profit research group that pub- 
lished the Gray Papers on major issues 
affecting older women. 

"If the displaced homemaker 
movement proved nothing else, it 
proved that once aroused and mobil- 
ized, older women can develop 
political clout. That clout is 
needed because there is so much to 
be done. Take access to health 
care insurance, for example. How 
many women find themselves widowed 
or divorced and ineligible for health 
insurance which provides decent 
coverage and which they can afford? 
There is a gap in public health 
service during that time between 
family planning and Medicare, because 
access to decent coverage is avail- 
able only by virtue of employment 
or as a dependent of an eligible 

....Controversies around social 
security are heating up as well. 
Pressures to limit benefits, especi- 
ally those of dependents, or to 
decrease cost of living advances, 
make it clear that there is much to 
be done to defend the gains that have 
been made. On the other hand, women's 
organizations are becoming more 
involved in social security and pension 
issues, which opens the door to new 
collaboration in these areas. 

....The list of issues could go on 
and on, and probably will as long 
as we live. But political action — 
chip away at all these inequities 


and bring about positive social 
change* Of course, there are 
strong currents of opposition but they 
must not prevaiU We remain silent at 
our own peri I . 

....We have been building a network 
of older women activists and advocates, 
recognizing that our common interest 
will only be effectively served when 
time is ripe to turn our longtime 
dream into reality by launching the 
Older Women's League. Now is the 
time to recruit members, build 
chapters all over the country, 
mobilizing our growing numbers into 
an effective force " 

dependent on the benefits of our 

OWL expects to have active 
chapters in every state by next 
year and a national headquarters 
in Washington, D.C. For those of 
you who feel as I do, and would like 
to learn more about the League, 
write OWL, 3800 Harrison Street, 
Oakland, CA 9461 U 

And turn a dream into reality 
is just what they did On October 
11, 1980, the Older Women's League 
was foundedc Issues which will 
receive top priority include improve- 
ment of the ret i rement- income laws; 
supporting pension bills in Congress 
so that divorced and widowed women 
are entitled to their former spouses' 
pension funds, and improving access 
to health care insurance. 

Ms. Sommers is particularly 
sensitive to the need for some form 
of affordable insurance for older 
women. She lost her coverage under 
her husband's policy when she divorced 
him at the age of 57. With a history 
of cancer, she was unable to find 
any company which would insure her c 
Six months before she became eligible 
for Medicare the cancer returned. She 
was obligated to pay for the 
expensive radiation treatments from 
her own pocket. 

As an older woman, I strongly 
feel the need to support this 
energetic and politically active 
group — to "speak out" on my own 
behalf. For the first time we 
have an organization that is inter- 
ested in the problems of older women, 
problems which differ largely because 
many of us have not been employed 
where we have been able to accumulate 
benefits »n our own right and are 


by MaAge. ShcJvp 

During the past 20 years the 
federal government has held two 
White House Conferences on Aging to 
address both the short and long 
range issues of concern to the 
aging population, and to seek 
recommendations for resolving these 

These previous conferences identi- 
fied gaps in governmental programs. 
The resultant increase in federal 
spending produced an expansion of 
the number of social organizations 
to serve the older American, intro- 
duced subsidized medical and health 
care, subsidized nutritional programs, 
and increased the amount of state and 
local funding allocated to organiza- 
tions serving the aged. 

Since the spring of 1980 local 
communities throughout the United 
States have been holding Community 
Forums to provide a means for 
public discussion around the implica- 
tions of an aging society. Elderly 
residents, local politicians, agency 
personnel, and citizens of all ages 
have been invited to give their 
views and recommendations of what is 
needed over the next ten years. Such 
discussions also serve to increase 
awareness within the community of 
the problems encountered by their 
elderly population. 

When President Carter announced 
the appointment of the leadership 
of the 1981 Conference he stated: 
"...It is very important that we 
recognize the need for elderly 
people to have a maximum opportunity 
for self determination. Their lives 
have become ever more valuable with 
the passing years, because they 
have contributed to their country; 
they have vivid insight into the 
problems and challenges of our time. 
They have a broad perspective, in 

having seen crises come and go. They 
are completely conversant with the 
elements that comprise American 
society. They have confidence in 
our country because they have seen 
us meet similar challenges in the past. 

Many elements of American societal 
life can be harnessed to provide a 
partnership with the aged people of 
our country. In academic circles; 
in business and labor; local, state 
and federal agencies of government; 
in community programs, churches and 
other benevolent institutions; there. 
is an opportunity for free inter- 
change of advice and counsel, 
communication and common work, to 
realize the hopes and dreams of many 
Americans, regardless of age...." 

Although Community Forums were 
instructed to address any topic or 
issue which was of interest to the 
participants, some discussion ideas 
were put forth by the organization. 
These were only suggestions and by 
no means covered the complete 
array of possible topics. However, 
they do give a broad perspective 
of the concerns of older people. Drawn 
largely from the legislation that 
authorized the 1981 White House 
Conference on Aging they consist of 
the following questions: 

1) How can we as a nation provide 
economic security for all older 

2) How can we safeguard the health 
of aging Americans and reduce the 
physical, mental and economic costs 
of poor health? 

3) How can older Americans be 
assured of a satisfactory living 
environment, including suitable 
housing and the supports needed for 
an independent life? 

4) How can we assure an adequate 
share of resources and attention 
to redress the imbalances which 
still persist among minority aged 
who suffer multiple jeopardies? 

5) How can retired Americans develop 
and pursue increasingly productive 
and fulfilling roles in their later 


6) How can we assure productive 
and rewarding employment for those 
older Americans who wish to work? 

7) What social policies and services 
are needed to strengthen the resources 
of the increasing number of families 
with two generations of elderly persons? 

8) How can we direct adequate resour- 
ces to support those elderly persons 
who are particularly vulnerable and 

at risk? 

9) What should be the place of the 
religious community in ministering 
to the needs of the elderly? 

10) What needs to be done with respect 
to increasing , coordinating and 
expediting biomedical and other 
research directed at determining 

the causes of aging? 

The operational design of the 
Conference consists of two phases. 
Phase I will focus on local and 
state sponsored activities between 
May of 1980 and May of 1981. These 
activities will hopefully: 

1) develop an awareness of the 
upcoming 1981 Conference, 

2) provide a means for the develop- 
ment of issues and recommendations 
on a broad range of topics from a 
variety of concerned groups and 

3) provide a means for selecting 
delegates to the National Conference. 

The steps to achieve these 
objectives will include: (1) local 
Community Forums starting in May 

1980, the traditional Older Americans 
Month; (2) state White House Confer- 
ences between September 1980 and April 

1981, in every state and territory. 
Topic areas will be determined by 
the Advisory Committee, with each 
state reporting on the issues and 
recommendations covered at its 
conference; (3) delegates to the 
National Conference should be named 
by May 1981; and (4) separate 
"mini -conferences" to concentrate 
on specific Issues that may not 
get the necessary attention during 
the regular process, e.g., special 
dilemma of older women, minority 
aged, etc. 

The program agenda for the 
National Conference and the roles 
and responsibilities for the entire 
conference process will gradually 
be clarified, and the Conference 
office will provide technical 
assistance to help groups link into 
the conference process. 

Phase II (June 1981- December 1981) 
will emphasize the involvement 
of the delegates and the dissemina- 
tion of information to the delegates 
from the activities which occurred 
during Phase I. During the week 
of November 30-December 4, 1981 all 
delegates will gather in Washington, 
D.C. for the full National Confer- 
ence. The results of this confer- 
ence will impact the legislation 
over the next ten years. 


f nan field, about whom tkih poem it> 
wnitten i& Special Jntene&t Coondinaton 
Ion the Pank EoneAt Ve.pamtme.wt o{, 
Recneation and Pank&. 


There's a person here among us 
Who is known far and wide 
For her cheerful disposition 
And many things beside. 

She heads our Senior Citizens 
And points to us with pride 
Though I'm sure if she'd admit it 
Her patience oft we've tried. 

She plans theatre parties 

Lets us the show decide 

Then "cons" our good Keith Higg in: 

Into providing us the ride. 

She loves to play at ping pong 
Always on the winning side 
She challenges all comers 
Then takes them for a ride» 

When she thinks she is stymied 
And that her hands are tied 
She digs right in, gets on the phone 
And gets help from outside. 

One day when we were meeting 
The air conditioning "died" 
She got so hot, she couldn't work 
till she her scarf untied! 

Her appetite at pot lucks 

She never has denied 

She loves and eats the food brought in 

Be it broiled, baked or fried. 

How many pounds that she has gained 
Cannot from her be pryed 
But where those pounds have landed 
Can only be imp I ied. 

Her love for teens and children 
She never tries to hide 
I'm sure they all are grateful 
To have had her as their guide. 

Now Fran, we want to thank you 
All puns and jokes aside 
May God bless and keep you 
As he walks along your side. 

by Edith Lundbong 


HFHIS Modern young woman 
will assist you to open either 
a Checking or Savings Account, 
and we have every confidence 
that the courteous and efficient 
manner with which she serves 
you, will at once make you feel 
like a member of our large and 
happy family of depositors. 

About The, kuthon — Bonn many yean& ago 
on the. South Side, of, Chicago, ol panentA 
who wene bonn in Sweden, but mannied 
Jin Chicago. Educated in Eel&enthal 
gnamman and Hyde. Pank High School*. 
Lived in Woodlawn, then Aome ii^ty 
yexvu in South Shone., whene I woa active 
in many civic gnoupA and clubA. Memben 
o£ Southfield MethocLtit Chunch oveA 
lonty yeanA. Memben o£ PaAt Pne&identA 
Club , SwedLuh Pioneen Society, 
Amenican Daughter ol Sweden, EaAtenn 
Will County SenionA. Pne&ent TneoAunen 
o{ Smant Set SenionA of, Anbon TnailA. 
widowed — one daughteA, one Aon — 
9 gKa.ndichUAn.en, 7 gneat-gnandchilAnen. 




1 1 ive in the country, where 1 


have lived for forty years, but 1 

was born and grew up in Joliet, 

From Adam she came 

Illinois. Here my father was a 

Reproducing, nurturing 

streetcar motorman„ This will 

Today, she can choose,. 

tell you where 1 fit on the 

age scale. 

Soon after 1 was married, my 

Cloister or Bower 

husband and 1 bought this rural home 

with some acreage. Now, 1 am a 

Age - blessing or curse 

widow with two lovely daughters 

Wisdom should be our measure 

and four beautiful (of course, to 

Not units of years 

me) granddaughters. Also, a cat 

called "Muffet" and some wonderful 

neighbors and friends. 

From the Spheres 

To create some new demands upon 

my time, 1 began watered or and 

Music is beauty, 

creative writing courses through 

With its sounds, it quickens 

the local junior college. Since 

the soul 

a young girl, 1 have been scribbling. 

And stirs the mind afresh. 

Since my retirement, 1 now take the 

time to enjoy this pastime. 1 also 

love to read and walk in my woods. 

Next to these, 1 enjoy gardening, 

Phoenix Rising 

painting and good conversation. 1 

love all the seasons — even the quiet 

This country 1 love 

isolation a sudden snowstorm can 

Chose, E Pluribus Unum 


Out of many - One. 

by Lucille. VztoJi&on 

by Lucitle. PzteA&on 

by LilcaJULz. C. VztoA&on 

Who art thou? Are you from Eve, 
Aphrodite or Pandora? 

Today, women are in the forefront 
of the news. We are noted, quoted 
and counted. We are grist for the 
mill of the media in all forms. 
Many books and articles have been 
written and they attempt to cite 
just where we are today, or wish to be, 
Some are very emphatic on what we 
need to make life full and meaningful. 
With our complex natures we are a 
phenomenon to many of the opposite 
sex. We, however, are quite aware of 
who we are. 

We cherish our heritage,, We 
come from a long line of courageous 
women. From the pioneer woman who 
drove the Conestoga wagon across 
the prairies and who could ably 
defend herself in any real danger to 
those many brave women who left their 
native country to begin life here 
in a strange land. Others also 
came the long road from slavery to 
today f s Patricia Harris. We have 
travelled new, unknown, lonely 
paths, without a forerunner or guide. 

Once our lives were full of daily 
tasks, repetitious and absorbing. 
They were mandatory for the very 
survival of our homes and for our 
very existence. Gradually changes 
came to free us from many of these. 


This brought more freedom, choice 
and change. We soon found ourselves 
looking for other committments, and 
chal lenges. 

We forged onto new frontiers and 
left traditions behind. We opened 
windows and doors, thereby causing 
needed reforms. We took off our 
aprons and donned hard hats and 
uniforms. We are extensive in our 
roles. We drive busses, bulldozers, 
and man fire hoses, drive tractors, 
pilot planeSo We are to be found in 
many new ventures in research and 
medicine. Are we not the cohesive 
force that holds the structure 

Today, our roles are often plural. 
We combine career, marriage and 
motherhood with equal aplomb. We 
move, we create, we energize, not 
singly, but enmasse. We are sus- 
tainers, retainers and maintainers 
within our lifestyles. We are 
nurturers. We fortify our families 
with nourishment, advice and love. 
We are endowed with the wisdom of 
Solomon, Mother Nature and Mother Earth 
all in one. 

For the older woman the twentieth 
century has initiated great changes 
for her. Many remember when grand- 
mother was widowed and went to live 
with a daughter or son. This was 
an accepted way of life. What 
resources she had, she took with her. 
This was also the normal situation 
for the single woman and for the 
aunts, who all came to be part of 
the family. They lived out their 
remaining years dependent on the 
generosity of their relatives. They 
often became what we think of as 
"old maids." Can we blame them? 
They had to drastically adjust from 
being an independent homemaker, to 
much sharing and a dependency upon 
others. What a contrast today's 
woman presents! Most are financially 
able to continue some form of 
independent living. This includes 
the single woman, the divorcee and 
the single parent. 

For the retired woman, Social 
Security and pensions have given 
her new freedoms. We are again 
becoming forerunners. We are to 
be found in all areas. We have 
become organizers and joiners. We 
are found in the A.A.R.P., the 
A.A.R.T., and even with the Gray 
Panthers. We do volunteer work in 
hospitals and senior centers We 
teach, lecture and some go back to 
college. We join exercise classes, 
hiking groups and art classes We 
travel widely, play golf and dance. 
Most find life opening new areas 
and bringing new experiences and 

For some women, loneliness may 
always be a problem. We do know that 
isolation does bring loneliness. To 
this extent, then, whether it be 
brief or prolonged, we need to feel 
a kinship with all women who are 
in these various roles. We know 
from whence we came and we know 
we are venturing into new paths, but 
down through the centuries haven't 
we always had a good hold on the reins? 
With this thought in mind, let us 
keep making progress on our journeys. 
Vive le femme! 



I am a senior citizen. It may 
sound like an ordinary fact to 
all of us, but when did I age 
enough to acquire that status? 
Seems yesterday I was trying on 
a dress in front of the mirror, 
to go dancing at the J.P.I, in 
Chicago, and thinking that when 
I get real old, about 26, I hope 
I will be settled down into a 
married life and have children 
to raise. 

I am a senior citizen. Rather 
makes me feel like hurry, hurry 
before I become old. Inside, I 
am not old. Inside I can still 
dance, work, go to parties, laugh 
it up, and think I i ke a young 
person. I can plan to make a wall 
hanging, look for something to 
add to the beauty of my home — 
who's a senior citizen? 

Me thinks, I am protesting too 
much. I noticed I do walk a 
little more carefully and slowly. 
I do take a I ittle longer to get 
through the house work, and save 
time for a nap now and then. 

I suppose I am a senior citizen. 

about the author: I am a 70 yean, old 

widow who live* in a *outk *ubunb 

and keep* occupied with latch hook 

nug* t embnoideny and keeping up 

with hoclal climbing. &tngo and 

caxd game* an.e inten.e*ting and al*o 

take time, 

I wa& toU&ed by a wonden&ul *et o£ 

ofitkodoK Jewi&h patient* who&e Live* 

centered about my btwthen. and me. 

Mot poon., but pKideiulty "con*en.vative" 

60 that we neven. wanted what we couldn't 

a^ond. So my "go to school," "go 

to the libfuviy" wa* peaceful and 

*ati* factory,, 

by Pauline GolA^axb 



by Nancy HamWton 

As the time approaches at which, 
by some definitions, I will be what 
Americans term a "senior," I keep 
waiting for a change of identification 
within. Of course I am apprehensive 
of physical disabilities, but these 
have been happening to myself and 
everyone I know all of our lives » What 
is it, then, that marks one as being 

A person who works, to a large 
extent, with seniors says that it 
is simply an age when everything 
one has been is intensified. If 
you were tending toward stubbornness, 
then you are likely to be a tough 
old coot, male or female; if you 
were sweet and agreeable, you are 
likely to be more so. Some time 
ago a long list of tendencies of 
older persons appeared in print, and 
now that list seems important to me. 

However, it seems to me, while 
watching senior tendencies toward 
disability grow, that one's discipline 
or situation has much to do with 
the way he or she turns out. For 
instance, some kind of social settinq 
is important to remind one of the 
presence of human beings who require 
one's concern. The relative number 
of human beings surrounding one is 
determined, apparently, by one's 
past experience. We tend to be 
loners or not loners. In any event, 
it seems important to choose a sociable 
life-setting early in the game. 

When the young accept the 
idiosyncrasies that accompany aging 
it seems commendable to seniors. 
This attitude, if condescending, 
usually applies to physical disabili- 
ties, but the young do not seem to 
realize that the accidents or changes 
can happen to anyone at any time. A 
person simply recognizes this fact 
more easily as he or she gets older. 

Life has constant surprises, even 
blows, from which we seen to either 
recover with more fortitude than we 
had, or don't recover at all. It 
takes time, though, to learn this, 
and that is perhaps what we do 
learn. Many of us have lost someone 
who meant much to us, and we do not 
know why or what the message is„ 
This loss requires some kind of faith, 
labeled or unlabeled. It does seem 
that the only message for coping 
with such losses and failures is 
"let us love one another as much as 
possible." "Accept" is perhaps 
a better word in our society, in 
which we do not really understand 
the meaning of the word love as 
used by others. 

Our senior priorities differ, 
patience seems a bit easier; not 
really easy, if one is naturally 
impatient, but easier, anyway. Things 
that seemed so y/ery pressing a few 
years back do not now seem so. Other 
concerns do, like health, home, a 
philosophy or religion to help us 

Periodically we worry about 
external events, but at this age 
more about what happens internally. 
Some people worry effectively, or 
pray, or somehow remain fine, pleasant, 
wise people. I wish we all could. Also, 
they seem healthy, despite known 
physical problems. How they do it I 
now wonder. 

I have achieved many personal 
triumphs during my life, but there 
are still some I hope to achieve as 
a senior. They include patience; 
a sense of perspective which includes 
humor; empathy with others, but not 
the willingness to be drowned in 
anyone's sorrow; the knowledge that 
in all are attitudes inherited, 
learned and earned; acceptance without 
fighting what are genuine infirmities; 
wisdom to know when something will 
not help anyone, including myself; 
ability to cope. All these are gifts, 
and probably, if understood, the word 



as "being given to one 
without reason" is part of the 
whole picture. 

Nancy Hami&ton, a ioon-to-be 
KecentLy received hex maAteA'6 
degree in Commmication Science at 
Govexnont* State Unlvesuity. She.' 6 
cuAAentty wonking ai an 
voonkeA iofi Ea&testn I'lilZ. County 
Senior SenviceA Ce.nteA t and coordinator 
ofi the Community Votiwm fan the 1981 
Uhite Hou&e Conference on Aging, 



nal Thoughts 


by Suzanne. ?ne*cott 

[Ed Mote Suzanne. Pn.e*cott, ?nohe**on 
In the College, oh Human leaxning and 
Development mate, down hex. thought* 
and 6e.eLLng6 *eveXjal houx* ahtex hex 
mothex died Rathex than keeping hex 
tieaction* phivate the *haxed the*e 
thought* with *ome oh hex colleague* 
and *tudent*. She. hound thi* *haxtng 
ex.pexi.ence u*eh^t In working thxough 
the> o\ thi* cxi*i* pextod. 
She al*o include* a second section 
written two week* ahtex hex mothex 
dLLed, which reveal* *ome additional 
thouglvt* on the topic. In the thixd 
section *he add* *ome Kehlection* 
6 he wxote daxing the *eventh month 
following hex. mothex'* death.) 

Today my mother died— at 5 P.M. 
The experience was more powerful than I 
could have imagined it would be. As 
my brother said, "You think you're 
ready, but you're not." 

We were called at 3 P.M. by the nurse 
on the intensive care unit, who told 
us that mother appeared to be weakening. 
My brother and I arrived at the hospital 
at 3:18. The nurse said that it 
wouldn't be long before mother died. 
At 4:22 my mother's "vital signs" 
were weak but stable. At 4:45 they 
started to weaken noticeably. A 
small machine above her head showed 
her heart weakening, slowing. A 
small irridescent green line began 
falling toward zero. It's telling 
me that my mother is dying. It's 
horribly exciting in a way which I 
can't explain yet. Her breathing is 
slowing like a runner after a race. 
She doesn't breathe anymore. She's 

At that moment, my brother grabbed 
my hand and we both cried out. There 
is a terrible, almost unspeakable 
recognition. This is strange, too; 
my brother and I have never been 
honest about emotions with each other. 

There are some important things 
that led up to this experience. 
About two months ago it became appar*- 
ent to me that not only was my 
mother quite ill, but that she was 
frightened. I thought she might be 
frightened of dying. I'm sure I was 
right. I began to do what I could to 
let her know that I knew of her fear 
and I tried to be with her as often as 
possible. I held her while she cried. 
I felt that she was struggling with 
the fear that her body was abandoning 
her. I told her I knew it was frighten- 
ing but that I loved her. I visited 
her fairly often (there are never 
enough times); I sent her flowers and 
cards, and called on the phone. We 
had good talks in the last month, 
where we laughed together and shared 
some intimate thoughts. But basically, 
I think she was frightened and feeling 

When she died, I felt as though I 
was watching her slip back into a 
void. I think she was afraid of 
that void as she passed into it, as 
she felt it coming closer. I let her 
know that I was willing to face this 
void with her — that I could make 
this commitment. Facing death was 
awesome to me, It reminded me of the 
void in myself, the void I must one day 
enter, and the void in all women. 
This is a difficult situation that 
women face. Most women must face their 
own mother's death. My mother and I 
faced it as two women afraid. I'm 
sure there are numbers of women who 
face death with frighteningl y less 

for the 1 
that our 
could be 
that she 
going on 
what was 
and a hal 

we arrived at 
ast time, the 
mother was as 
expected, feel 
wasn't aware o 
around her. 
called a "coma 
f days. As we 
her, I decided 

the hospital 
nurse told us 
comfortable as 
ing no pain, and 
f what was 
he had been in 
" for two 

stood there 

to speak to 


my mother. It was difficult at first. 
I bent over her and my lips froze, 
my throat constricted, but I forced 
myself to talk. And the more I talked, 
the easier it became, the more I felt 
it was the correct thing to do. 

I told her that we were there with 
her, that I knew it was scary and that 
it was all right, we loved her. I 
stroked her brow, touched her cheeks, 
squeezed her hands and kissed her. I 
did what I could think of that seemed 
right. I told her once that it was 
okay to let go and she didn't have 
to try so hard. I don't know and 
can't know if she heard or felt me. I 
was doing what I had to do. 

I'm not at all sure that I would 
have done this if I had not just been 
reading an author who has always had 
a powerful impact on me and who 
prompts me to take action. I was 
reading Lies, Secrets and Silence by 
Adr i e nn e Rich. The presence of tha t 
book in this critical situation 
acted as a symbol and source of 
strength and as a provocateur c I 
began talking to my mother; so did 
my brother and later my father. If 
we had accepted what the medical 
establishment said about her condition, 
we all three would have stood there 
in silence, and would not have said 
a word to this dying woman. 

I was surprised to find that after 
I spoke some tears appeared in my 
mother's eyes. Rheumy eyes are per- 
haps a part of the process of dying 
as body functions cease, give up their 
harmony, lose control. It could have 
been this, but it might have been 
that she knew we were there. Later, 
after we left her for a few minutes 
while her temperature was taken, I 
walked back to her to find her eyes 
closed. I spoke to her to tell her 
that I had returned, and her eyes 
opened. My father and brother, who 
had come into the room, said that 
they thought she was looking at them. 
I don't know. But I do know that if 
we had just stood and let this woman 
die alone, that it would have been a 

My father and brother had shown 
little effort that I could observe to 
deal with my mother's fear during 
the last couple of months. Perhaps 
they didn't know how, or weren't 
aware of mother's fear. By their 
silence, they made part of her invis- 
ible, denying her incredible fear 
and leaving her to deal with her 
feelings by herself. By acting as 
we did at the end we opened up a 
possibility for action that I hope 
we have the knowledge and conviction 
to repeat. 

In the couple of days before my 
mother died I thought several times 
of a poem by Garcia Lorca about the 
death of a bullfighter. It begins: 

At ^ive, in the. afiteAnoon 

At exactly hive, in the. a^texnoon 

A boy brought the white. hhe.e£. ... 

My mother died at 5 P.M 

♦ * * 

Dear Florence, 

Two weeks ago my mother died. Since 
no one that familiar to me has ever 
died, I was not aware of how powerful 
this experience can be. A friend of 
mine had been saying to "get ready 
for it" but as my brother said, 
"You think you're ready but you're 
not." I imagine, as with your 
father's death, there is an instant 
of recognition when we realize a 
person is no longer alive— something 
very powerful occurs. 

While I teach the aging course at 
school and have fancied that I think 
more often about death than most 37 
year olds, yet I've been surprised at 
how little I know about death, and 
how successfully our culture hides 
things from us that relate to death. 
I was surprised at how much the 
impersonal institutions that surround 
death are controlled by men. The 


last person to look at my mother's 
face was a man from the funeral 
home; religious significance was 
granted to my mother by a man, a 
priest; men carried my mother's 
body, pallbearers; men controlled the 
economic circumstances of death, 
the style and content of it, the 
funeral 'director,' the attorney, 
the limosine driver, the cemetery 
attendant. Watchdogs everywhere. 
Few events in our culture are so 
closely guarded. Why? Is there 
some secret I've missed? 

I was lucky in a way. By coinci- 
dence I had just gotten a copy of 
Lies, Secrets and Silence by Adrienne 
Rich for a friend. Yet, I hadn't 
read some of the essays. As I was 
reading them, my mother was declining 
rapidly— I had already talked with 
her for the last time, though I 
didn't know it. As we came toward 
her death, I felt like a swimmer in 
high water, like a crippled person. 
This book became a powerful instrument 
for me. Adrienne Rich is like a 
provocateur. Her poetry and essays 
lead me to action. Even as I stood 
at the hospital bed looking down at 
my mother, my brief-case was propped 
up against her night stand with the 
book inside it, and I said to myself, 
"Can I do this now? Am I strong 
enough to do what should be done? What 
would she do? If she were here she 
would approve of what I'm doing. I 
imagine that she js^ here." These are 
strange thoughts to have beside one's 
dying mother. 

Several hours after my mother died 
I wrote of my experience. I'm enclos- 
ing a copy of it. I wanted to get as 
much out of the experience as possible 
before it merged with my unconscious 
history. As Rich says in a recent 
poem, she fights against the temptation 
to make pain a career, and it is 
a temptation because it seems like the 
pain is part of our flirtation with 
understanding and giving meaning. There 
is a battle going on at the boundary of 
our consciousness. Some of these 
things I'm conscious about, others are 

shadowy, and others I'm sure I know 
nothing about, and it does seem that 
some significant part of this battle 
is finding out what it is I'm 
fighting. After I wrote it, I thought 
of giving it to my colleagues and 
friends. But I thought, "This 1s so 
personal, you're not supposed to write 
about these things. People will 
think you're crazy." 

The next day I was at the Univer- 
sity, having copies of what I'd 
written distributed. "Ready or not 
here I come!" I thought. I began 
my class that evening by saying, 
"Today was a day like no other in 
my life; today was my mother's 
funeral"... and then I plunged 
right in. I didn't know what to 
expect, and what happened was really 
remarkable. We obviously got very 
close to something that many people 
are trying to deal with; people, 
especially women, were making connec- 
tions. My concern with what has gone 
on so far is this: to define what is 
honorable and then to do it. The 
dilemma as I faced it months before 
her death was how to maintain integri- 
ty, for my mother and I were not 
close in many ways. There were times 
during the last couple of months 
when we created both closeness and an 
illusion of closeness. It was the 
illusion that challenged my integrity. 
On the one hand I was moved to help 
a dying woman and on the other hand, 
to be as honest as possible about the 
problems of our relationship. There 
were some sacrifices of honesty as 
I chose to be helpful. This choice is 
one I still feel comfortable with. 

If the experience a 
of death is oppressive 
lightening, I wonder i 
enough from the experi 
form the institution o 
we change the institut 
it's more appropriate 
death? I wish we coul 
more meaningfully, and 
participating could be 
in improving the exper 
that we will have one 

nd institution 
and yet en- 
f we can learn 
ence to trans- 
f death? Can 
ion so that 
for our own 
d participate 
that our own 
an investment 
ience of death 
day. I know 


you have had similar thoughts. Care 
to share them? Love, Suzanne 

* * * 

There is a way in which my writing 
about my mother's death created a 
seamless web, a story in which all 
the parts fitted together. And yet 
looking back on the experience there 
were elements that didn't fit, elements 
that were left out and which now 
seem more important to me. For 
instance, when I arrived at the hos- 
pital, a nurse tried to be comforting 
by pointing out that my mother was 
feeling no pain and would die very 
quickly. She added, "And your mother 
was such a good person." I looked at 
her and said, "I don't know if she was 
a good person, but that's irrelevant 
now." At that moment I hadn't yet 
realized that my mother, who was 
lying there, could very possibly 
hear my comment . I have thought 
about this often. I wonder if this is 
one of the last remarks that my mother 
heard me make before she died. I 
wonder what this meant to my mother, 
what thoughts and responses she could 
not give to this commento I think about 
this, and it hurts. 

I also remember looking at my 
mother's naked body, just minutes 
before she died. Her body looked like 
mine, I thoughto She was alive and 
yet I knew that minutes later she 
would not be. 

If only there were some way 
to stall.. ..I had the thought that 
thirty-seven years earlier I had come 
out of her body; now she was strug- 
gling, not with birth, but with death e 
My own body, large and strong, would 
one day lie, like hers, at the moment 
of death. I wondered if anyone else 
had had similar thoughts while 
watching their mother die c 

Occasionally I awaken thinking 
of something that I must tell my 
mother, and then realize that I no 
longer can. 

Sometimes when I least expect 
it, I see my mother's face lying on 
the hospital bed, the blood and 
tubes and her face struggling and 
contorted with what I imagine as 
hopeless fear. I hear the rattling 
of her breathing. 

These are the fragments that 
don't fit. The synecdoche is 



The. tmpontant thing about Aa%ienne ZLch 
ion. me <Lt> that the. &uan6{ i o>im6 fieatity 
and QJieateA pobhtbXJLLLleA ^on. action 
that I am capable o^ tcecogniztng, 
Hexe axe home thought* l>wm L-ceA, 
Secxett, and Silence that I've 
Kexead A,n the. la&t fiei*) day& 

Men have been expected to tell the 
truth about facts, not about feelings. 
They have not been expected to talk 
about feelings at all. 

Lying is done with words, and also 
with silence. 

The liar often suffers from amnesia. 
Amnesia is the silence of the 
unconscious... the unconscious 
wants truth. It ceases to speak to 
those who want something else more 
than truth. 

In speaking of lies, we come to the 
subject of truth. There is nothing 
simple or easy about this idea. There 
is no "the truth"~truth is not one 
thing, or even a system. It is an 
increasing complexity. This is why 
the effort to speak honestly is so 
important. Lies are usually attempts 
to make everything simpler — for 
the liar--than it really is, or 
ought to be. 

In lying to others we end up lying 
to ourselves. We deny the importance 
of an event, or a person, and thus 
deprive ourselves of a part of our 
lives. Or we use one piece of the 
past or present to screen out another. 
Thus, we lose faith even with our 
own lives. 

An honorable human relationship-- 
that is one in which two people have 
the right to use the word "love"-- 
is a process, delicate, violent, 
often terrifying to both persons 
involved, a process of refining the 
truths they can tell each other 

It is important to do this because 
it breaks down human self-delusion, 
and isolation. 

It is important to do this because 
in so doing we do justice to our 
own complexity. 

It is important to do this because 
we can count on so few people to 
go that hard way with us. 

And so v/e must take seriously the 
question of truthfulness between 
women, truthfulness among women. As 
we cease to lie with our bodies, as 
we cease to take on faith what men 
have said about us, is a truly 
womanly idea of honor in the making? 

There is a danger run by all powerless 
people: that we forget we are lying, 
or that lying becomes a weapon we 
carry over into relationships with 
people who do not have power over us. 



by Linda 

My mother's sister Sophie, who 
was my favorite aunt, died last October 
while my parents were visiting me. 
My parents had chosen to escape 
facing the inevitability of their own 
mortality by making my dirty house a 
priority: an attempt to reassure 
themselves of a painless world. 

The expected phone call came one 
evening. My brother-in-law asked 
me not to tell Ma that Sophie had died, 
but was "near the end" and to come 
home. The sudden sag in my posture and 
accompanying tears conveyed the message 
to mother, and with a gasp that I 
shall never forget, she expelled, "my 
sister," as though she, too, were let- 
ting go. She became very small. My 
mother might be the next to die, and 
I became afraid. My father, sitting 
in the next room, grew quiet and grew 
old at that moment. 

I've been watching my parents 
grow old and I hate it. My father's 
hand, once so firm and secure for me, 
now shakes as he lifts his soup. No 
one comments, except for my son, his 
youngest grandchild. "Papa, you 
got shakey hands, but that's O.K. cause 
sometimes I have shakey hands too." 
My father's eyes were operated on for 
cataracts and his unsteady footing has 
to be carefully watched. His youthful 
energy no longer exists and it often 
takes my mother's nagging to get him 
out of bed. Every so often I see him 
watching something out of the corner of 
his eye. His face seems to darken. 
Dammit! Where is that smile, like a 
halloween pumpkin, that used to let me 
know that all was O.K., keeping the 
goblins away? 

Boadicea, my mother, no longer 
can do battle and we have both padded 
our weapons. Her strength and her will 
were the rocks upon which I could 
sharpen my metal and forge my being. 
She would marshal 1 her army of know- 
ledge and interests and over the years, 

the battle raged for me to acquire not 
only those lands but many more, and I 
did. I learned well from that old 
warrior queen. Now, I see her retreat 
in defeat, as my grandmother did at 
the end of her reign, and wonder if 
I wi 11 , too . 

I see my mother's hand get stiff 
and swollen with arthritis and watch 
her rings grow. She drops her needles 
when knitting. Again, no one comments 
except for the grandson: "Nana, you 
dropped your needle." Those hands, 
in their spare time, have manufactured 
countless sweaters, booties, afghans 
and hats to keep us all warm. I wonder 
if I will be able to be warm after 
she dies? She drops her needle; she 
is loosing her grasp and it terrifies 
me. She falls asleep in her chair; 
she never used to. She, too, keeps a 
close watch on something. 

As their bones get brittle, I 
hear their minds getting rigid. The 
broad libertarian thinking that sparked 
heated discussions around the kitchen 
table, anarchy and open minds, have now 
become narrow and self-serving. 

Powerlessness is the life-ebbing 
feeling and the experience much like 
a brownout; dim light, vague forms. 
Where are my mother and father? 
Becoming memories and shadows. I hate 
it. If those rocks and smiles disap- 
pear, how do I measure my metal and 
joy? If I no longer have parents, 
I can no longer be a child. When will 
the lights go on again and the power 
return? What will I see? 

( Linda Becfe t& a paAX-tune. (v\t 
Ihenaptht in the. Adjunctive. TheAapy 
UvvLt oh the. p^ychixutJiic toand at the. 
Hin&dale. UoApitaZ) 



by Many Lou Rogo^ 

God giant me the. &exe.nity to accept 

the thtngA I cannot cliange 

the. courage to change, the thing* 

I can 
and the. ivt6dom to know the di^efience, 

Over the past two decades, Dr. 
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has taught us 
a great deal about death. She has 
explored pre-death experiences, 
death itself, and after-death 
experiences. She has had the courage, 
flexibility and sensitivity to 
relate to terminally ill persons and 
their families. She has given them 
a sense of hope, peace and understand- 
ing as they go through the death 
experience. In this respect, she 
has relentlessly pursued what must 
be a y/ery lonely path, offering 
warm understanding, valuable insights 
and humanistic meaning to professionals, 
as well as dying persons and their 
families. She has not been afraid 
to approach dying people and become 
involved in what, for many, was a 
very frightening experience. 

Her contributions have been 
creative, unique and sorely needed 
in a society which promotes feelings 
of denial regarding human mortality. 
Though we may try to postpone 
confronting issues of death and 
dying, the reality of life forces 
us to face it eventually. 

In her first work, On Death and 
Dying , she describes five stages of 
dying. The first stage is denial. 
The terminally ill person protests 
"no not me, it cannot be true." 
Dr. Kubler-Ross suggests that people 
should contemplate the possibility 
of their own death in order to deal 
more effectively with traumas and 
loss, refocusing on the human aspects 
of terminally ill persons and the 

experience of loss. If our society 
continues to deny these important 
issues, isolation becomes greater for 
all involved in the death experience 
Death is frightening. Fear of the 
unknown triggers feelings previously 
unencountered by most people. Un- 
fortunately, death and loss must be 
dealt with alone by each individual. 
Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross indicates 
that people who use denial as a 
major defense in their lives will 
use denial much more extensively 
while dying. Those who in the past 
have faced situations openly, will 
face death in the same manner. Denial, 
she points out, however, nay also 
serve temporarily to buffer unexpected, 
shocking news, allowing people the 
time to collect themselves and mobilize 
other, less radical defenses. 

When this first stage can no 
longer be maintained, it is replaced 
by feelings of anger, resentment, 
and rage--the "why me" stage. This 
anger expressed by the dying person 
is very difficult for family, friends, 
and staff to handle. Usually the 
anger is displaced in all directions, 
projected randomly to almost anyone. 
Again, this stage will be more difficult 
for people who have not realistically 
dealt with their earlier feelings 
of anger and rage. People who carry 
anger or are chronic fighters will 
rebel even at the moment of death. 

Guilt, shame, and grief are common 
for family and friends to feel at 
times of death. These feelings are not 
far removed from rage and anger. In 
fact, the grief process always includes 
some qualities of anger. Since we 
do not like to admit feelings of 
anger toward a dying person, we often 
disguise or repress these emotions. 
Consequently, we may prolong the 
period of grief or view these emotions 
as bad or shameful. Put as Dr. 
Kubler-Ross points out, it is best 
to understand their true origin 
and meaning as something very human. 

If the dying person has been 
unable to face the fact of death in 


the first stage and has been angry 
with people and God in the second 
phase, he may then try to bargain with 
himself and others by entering into 
some sort of agreement. In this 
phase the patient accepts the fact 
of death but bargains for more time. 
Mostly he bargains with God. He 
promises to be good or to do something 
in exchange for another week or month 
or year of life. What he promises is 
irrelevant because he cannot really 
carry out these promises. However, 
this may, in his mind, postpone 
the inevitable. Dr. Kubler-Ross indi- 
cates that this stage of "yes me, but" 
is less well known and is usually 
brief. It may be very helpful to 
the dying person unless it continues 
for too long. 

The fourth stage Dr. Kubler-Ross 
identifies is depression, in which 
an attempt is made to resolve past 
and pending loss of everything and 
everyone loved. However, if allowed 
to express this sorrow, the dying 
person will find the final acceptance 
much easier. However, he may 
experience another form of depression 
if those around him refuse to accept 
the reality of his death. Their 
attitude can cause great grief and 
turmoil. To die in peace and 
acceptance this stage of depression 
is necessary, and can only be 
achieved if the person has been 
able to work through his anguish 
and anxieties. 

With enough time to work through 
the previous stages, the final days 
will bring a certain amount of quiet 
acceptance. Acceptance is not 
necessarily a happy stage. It is 
almost void of feelings: pain is gone, 
the struggle is over and the person 
experiences a final rest. 

What usually lasts through each 
of these stages is hope which 
sustains the dying person through 
months of suffering. It is the 
belief that all of this has some 
meaning and will pay off if he can 
only endure a little longer. 

Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has 
beautifully described these five 
stages of dying. The acceptance 
of his death by others is crucial 
for the terminally ill person. Only 
then can he grow through this process 
of grief toward his own acceptance. 
A person's acceptance of his own 
being and significance depends 
upon knowing that he is accepted by 
someone or something other than him- 
self. Acceptance is the beginning 
of emotional growth. Death and life 
are inseparable. Dr. Kubler-Ross 
has learned that death offers people 
an unparalleled opportunity to 
discover life's true meaning. It 
is a time when people come to terms 
with their own finiteness and get 
their final chance to grow and to 
become more truly human. In our 
culture death is primarily viewed 
as a negative experience. Vie can 
learn from the insights of Or. 
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross how to make 
living a more fully human, loving, 
growth producing experience. 

Death is inevitable. It will 
assuredly occur and we should 
anticipate this experience as much 
or more than other significant life 
experiences. Death is not an enemy 
to fear, but an integral part of our 
lives. When contemplated, it can 
give us a clearer perspective on 
who we are and what we have done. It 
offers us a chance to grow more fully 
into the person we wish to be. We 
need to act now to attain what 
we want to experience in life. Denial 
of the reality of death keeps us from 
finding a sense of peace and well- 
being in life. Freedom is the key 
to well-being. The secret of freedom 
is the willingness to accept loss- 
even of life. Attachment, on the 
other hand, promotes human suffering— 
the unwillingness to let go. 

From the dying person, we can 
learn to live each day more fully. 
This does not mean living frantically, 
accumulating experiences, but 
instead to more fully experience the 
reality of each moment, by being in 


tune with our true selves, lie need 
strength to deal with life's disap- 
pointments and pain, and strive to 
discover and sustain the joys of 
life. People who have never dealt 
in daily living with their internal 
conflicts — anger, depression and 
grief cannot experience true freedom 
either. Those who accept and make 
peace with death are usually the ones 
who have settled the issues, fulfilled 
their hopes and dreams, experienced 
love and being loved, contributed 
positively to others and discovered 
who they are existentially. 

In the words of Pr. Kubler-Ross, 
"Sometimes I wonder why we profession- 
als make such a big nightmare out of 
death and dying. Ry prolonging life 
at all costs, we proceed on the assump- 
tion that the human consists only of 
the physical body." Her work suggests 
that we are an immortal consciousness 
inhabiting a transient physical form. 
She feels our present day scientific 
understanding of the human phenomenon 
is limited. If, as she implies, there 
is more to the human phenomenon than 
the experience of "life" as we know it 
and if it is really possible that 
consciousness is neither created 
nor destroyed, then what is "death"? 

She believes there is meaning to 
suffering. The syndrome of shock, 
denial, anger, bargaining, and 
depression is not unique to death 
but is frequently part of painful 
life experiences. People whose lives 
are marked by tragedy experience 
Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' s five 
stages of dying with each catastrophe. 
Loss is equated with death if we be- 
come attached to that which we must 
relinquish. Pr. Kubler-Ross calls 
these "little deaths." 

I turn a nace 
with the 6etting 6un t 

6tAlvlng to live, 

% efie my day Is done 

Facing death, 
that I may know Hie; 
£ok awaKene66 o& death 

gives to H&e; 
I mouAn not 60 much 

the dead, 
as Living dead! 

Gxlevlng not 

the. £.066 o£ H{e t 
but natheA, 

the. tack o& tifa; 
"I nage not 

at my dying, 
bat at the. dead place* 

In tifal 

So I 6tAuggle to take, 

my place In the. 6un; 
to 6lng all my 6ong, 

' exe. my day Is done.; 
to blo66om 

and ^loweA, 
'exe. the. ^Inal houn 

when my nace Is n.un. 

[Enom "The Race" by Hal Rogo^) 

Pr. Kubler-Ross practiced general 
medicine in Switzerland before 
coming to this country. She began 
her work with terminally ill patients 
while teaching psychiatry at the 
University of Chicago. Pr. Kubler- 
Ross will be remembered throughout 
psychiatric history as one who 
taught her colleagues to think of 
the dying person as a human being. 
Her contributions have been profound 
and her dedication unsurpassed. 


KubleA-Ro66 , Etizabeth On Veath And 

Vying . New Votik: lAactteJJUm 

Publishing Co„, Inc, 1969. 
Kublen.-Ro66 , Elizabeth Questions 

On Veath and Vying New Yotik: 

MacmlZlan Publishing Co., Inc., 

KubleA-Ro66 , Vfi. Elizabeth Veath 

The Y-lnal Stage oj Gfiowth . Englewood 

CHfifa, New JeAsey: Pientlce-Hall, 

Inc., 1975. 
KubleA-Ro66 f Vn. Elizabeth To Live 

Until We, Say Good-Bye . tnglen)ood 

Cllfifa, New JeA6ey: Ptientice-Hall 

Inc., 1978 
Oyle, Vk. living The New American 

Medicine Show . Santa Oluz, CA: 

Unity Pne66, 1979. 







When you enter the Vrouwenhuis 
(Women's House) at 15 Pavlova Street 
in the Hague, you are greeted with 
an open handshake and an offer of 
a cup of coffee. In this gracious 
place, provided by an all -volunteer 
staff, you learn that the purpose 
of Vrouwenhuis is to raise the gen- 
eral level of consciousness of women 
about their situation, and to help 
them understand that their problems 
are not their fault, but that they 
are rather the problems of society. 

My guide is Ineke van Wilsum 
and she tells me that women come 
here on Valium, sleeping pills, with 
many troubles, and that here they 
find that their troubles are not 
theirs alone. This relieves much 
quilt and anxiety, for these women 
often cannot talk to the professional 
helpers. Why not? "The professional 
helpers only translate the male 
attitude." Ineke continues: "At 
Vrouwenhuis we say to the women who 
come: 'We are in the same situation 
as you.' We counsel in groups 
using Maslow-oriented radical therapy 
because it is a soft, gentle therapy 
and because we believe that every- 
body is as good at this as anyone 

The women who come to Vrouwen- 
huis are depressive women, with few 
personal contacts. Along with the 
group counseling there are also 
lessons in French, English and 
other languages and courses to 
broaden their world view. On the 
political side, there are demonstra- 
tions for the right to an abortion, 
for working women to have time off 
for breastfeeding, better working 
conditions. There is a special 
club for women between 45 and 55 
who are facing memopausal -related 
problems. Other activites at the 
house include karate lessons, a 
choir and a film series. They also 
publish Rosa , a magazine by and 
for women. 


The concern for older people 
which I saw at the Women's House 
seemed typical to me of the Dutch 
sense of social responsibility and 
conscientious care for persons of 
all segments of society,, In the 
neighborhood where I live there 
are many people in their eighties, 
still going out to the local shops 
to do their daily errands— active, 
alert and vigorous . 
(See Lynn Strauss' interview with 
MrSo Henny.) 

As we have assembled the arti- 
cles for this issue on The Coming 
Of Age , in the wonderful expression 
of Simone de Beauvoir, I have 
remembered my parents. I was a 
child of eleven when my parents 
entered that stage of life which 
we now refer to as "aging." I 
didn't know that they were aging. 
I knew that they were my parents. 
My father, still strong in the 
pulpit still proclaiming his 
opinions on the events of the day 
with authority. My mother, her full 
hair brown and richly piled on her 
head with no trace of grey tending 
her garden, leading the book dis- 
cussion group and teaching elementary 
school. We went, the three of us, 
to a retirement community in Florida. 
To me, they were not "old." They 
were Mamma and Papa. My parents. 
Wise, capable of meeting any emer- 
gency, knowing how to take care of me. 

Long after retirement my parents 
went on to drive from Florida to 
Maine and back every year during 
their seventies; and to fly about 
the country visiting offspring 
during their eighties. Eventually 
they slowed, faded and finally 
died without ever actually being 
sick in their nineties. Yes, even 
they finally became old and died. 

And now I think of my brothers 
and sisters, in their sixties and 
seventies, and their different 
lifestyles in retirement. Ben and 
Dorothy have made gardening and 
tree farming a way of life. Lee 

writes that it is important to 
travel and experiment with various 
activities before 65: "Don't put 
off until retirement your possible 
retirement activity," she urges. 
Barbara, living on the Maine coast, 
reports that she never gets bored: 
"If I get restless all I need to do 
is to hike by the sea or in the 
woods — it's all heaven to me!" 

As my older brothers and sisters 
enter their seventies and eighties 
and nineties, I plan to keep a close 
watch on them. I want to find out 
from them how to do it. As always 
my brothers and sisters are inspira- 
tional models for me. 

Readers who wish to share the 
mature reflections of a complete 
person will enjoy These Vintage 
Years by Margot Benary-Isbert 
(Abingdon Press, 1965). She writes 
"I prefer to call old age an adven- 
ture while others may call it a 
calamity. The difference is that a 
calamity has to be endured passively; 
an adventure must be accepted actively, 
To accept the challenge of adventure 
means freedom, though every adven- 
ture involves risks." Her book is 
a rich testament to the pleasures 
of a time when "ripeness is alio" 
From her book I selected the 
following quotations: 

"DOING is all that counts in life; 
enjoying and suffering look after 
themselves," - Goethe 

"And now in age I bud again; 
After so many deaths I live and 
write." - George Herbert 

"To live life to the end is not a 
child's task " - Pasternak 

HdtnYi B. Hug/i&s, Editon. 


BOOK REVIEW by Shannon M. Tnoy 

Life After Youth: Female, Forty— 
What Next? by Ruth Harriet Jacobs,, 
Boston: Beacon Press, 1979 c 

This relatively brief work by an 
over-forty, female doctor of sociology 
takes a realistic look at the major 
roles available to most over-forty 
women today. Based on sociological 
research funded by the National 
Institute of Mental Health, Dr. 
Jacobs' book centers on the ten-part 
typology of the older woman that 
she originally developed for an 
article in the journal Soc i a I Po I i cy . 
The available roles are nurturer, 
either engaged, unutilized, or re- 
engaged; chum networker; careerist, 
employed or unemployed; seeker; 
faded beauty; doctorer; escapist and 
isolate; and advocate and assertive 
older woman. 

Far from being a dull, scholarly 
treatise, Life After Youth illustrates 
its major points with graphic case 
studies of real women living out 
one of these available roles. And 
much of the essence of their experiences 
is engrossing but not pleasant — to 
read or to I i ve. 

Many of the themes that appear in 
other works by and about women are 
here— poor jobs at low pay; the 
problems of working or attending 
school while being the prime or sole 
caretaker of home and children; 
guilt; negative self-image But the 
factor of age — female and over forty — 
adds a special dimension. To quote 
from the author's introduction, 
"The callous way Americans generally 
treat older women is a thermometer of 
a destructive fever afflicting our 
civilization... Older women, who are 
seldom the object of men's erotic 
fantasies or fathering impulses, can 
safely be made the scapegoats for 
past stresses... and present ones.... 
Sadly enough, even young women often 
despise older women, seeing them as 
hourglasses in which to read, 
correctly, their own bitter fate."(p c 9) 

In Chaper Ten the author acknow- 
ledges what the reader has long known — 
that this book is more than a relation 
of how things are for many women. It 
is an advocacy work — an exposure of the 
bad situations and lack of options 
that many older women suffer, in 
order that some change for the better 
might be attempted. And if ever a 
group deserved an advocacy piece it 
is this one: "They (older women) were 
taught to be honest, warm, helpful, 
compromising— not devious, withholding, 
adamant, or hostile. If they find 
themselves becoming angry, they feel 
guilty even if the hostility is 
well justified... . Unused to combat, 
they throw away their weapons and 
creep away." (p. 151) 

Life After Youth has its flaws — 
occasional bursts of emotionalism, 
and failure to pinpoint the sources 
of some statistics presented. But 
despite them, It is still a work 
that concerned citizens, male and 
female, shoud read. Beyond the fact 
that among the women concerned are 
our mothers, aunts, sisters, friends, 
is the consideration that population 
trends make older women the wave of 
the future. As Jacobs says on page 
one, "Often what are seen as individual 
troubles are really public issues. 
This republic cannot afford to have 
a significant and growing proportion 
of its population continue to be 
"underpaid, underutilized, under- 
recognized, and under loved." It's 
not legal, it's not humane, it's not 
sound economics. But in order to 
change this unhappy state, it must 
first be recognized for the social 
problem that it Is — by the citizenry 
at large and especially by the women 

Ms Jfioy i6 CoonxUnaton. o£ Libfuaxy 
U&esi Education h-on the. GoveAnon* 
State. Unive/uity Ltbsia/iy She. i& 
a candidate. Ion a Voctonate. in 
Public Administration l Nova 


Your sympathy cannot 
help a refugee. 

But it is a beginning. 

UNHCR is the Office of the United 
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 

Our job is to co-ordinate the world- 
wide voluntary efforts to solve refugee 

To give the rights of man back to 
refugees. The right to work, to education. 
Freedom of religion. Identity papers. 
Travel documents. Legal protection. 

You can show your solidarity with 
people in need by supporting the voluntary 
refugee organisations in your country. 

They don't ask your help to support 
refugees forever and ever. 

They need your help to make refugees 

Living a useful, peaceful and happy life 
somewhere in the world. Just as you do. 

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 

btj Hulan E. Hughe* 

There was not just one UN Decade 
of Women Conference meeting in 
Copenhagen this summer. There were 
many. They differed in startling 
ways in terms of their character, 
ambiance and ef fectiveness There 
were: the official UN Conference 
at the Bella Center; the alternative 
conference of Non-Governmental 
Organizations — the Forum — held a few 
miles away at the campus of the 
University of Denmark; the Inter- 
national Festival of Women Artists 
held at the Glyptotek Gallery in 
Copenhagen; the committees that did 
the real work of the UN Conference; 
the workshops and seminars, films and 
lectures that were spin-offs of the 
Forum; the sessions in people's 
homes and hotel rooms, restaurants, 
bus stops, trains, and in the airport 
where there was interaction and 
conversation, argument and confronta- 
tion, news, and finally, exchange of 
names and addresses. 

First, the official UN Confer- 
ence, heavily guarded by armed secur- 
ity officers, admitting only official 
delegates or those with official press 

passes. Well, not quite true: one 
is persistent and one gets in Others 
could enter at certain hours under 
certain conditions; we had to surrender 
personal effects at the door — notebook, 
camera, tape recorder, and even 
wallet and passport „ The plenary 
session meets in a large hall in the 
Bella Center, a modern trade-show 
building. Delegates of 152 countries 
are seated in semicircular rows of 
tables, each nation identified by a 
plaque, each equipped with a 
microphone and headsets through which 
to hear what ever was going on trans- 
lated into a language that she could 
understand. I seated myself just 
behind the PLO delegation, always 
crowded by the media people who seemed 
to outnumber the delegates themselves 
I sat through one entire day of 
formal UN presentations. One after 
another they rose to speak from the 
podium: Turkey, Czechoslovakia, Peru, 
Lebanon, PLO, Switzerland, Ethiopia, 
Israel, USA. Each speaker praised 
the enlightened attitude toward women 
of her nation and cited the equality 
guaranteed under their constitution. 
It was the voice not of the women of 
the world, but women speaking as the 
mouthpieces of the State Departments 
of the governments of the world. 
Listening to them, one could not know 


of the impact on women of the political 
assassinations, violations of human 
rights, oppression or terrorism which 
every daily newspaper reported . The 
Lebanese insulted the Israel is The 
Israelis defended themselves. The 
Americans protested that the Confer- 
ence was being perverted to national- 
istic and political purposes that were 
irrelevant to the agenda of the 
conference. The excessively formal, 
bureaucratic nature of the procedures 
at the Bella Center were epitomized 
when Natalia Malakhovskaya, one of 
three underground Soviet feminists, 
publishers of Almanakh, Women and 
Russia , having been expelled from the 
USSR, arrived in Copenhagen and was 
not permitted to address the confer- 
ence. It was by turns disheartening 
or boring. But, the translations that 
one could select through one's 
headset went far beyond what most of 
us are likely to experience c Not 
just English, French, German, Spanish, 
Italian but also Russian, Arabic, 
Chinese. When the speeches became 
too boring to endure I tried listen- 
ing to them in Russian, Arabic or 
Chinese. I decided the most beautiful 
language sounds were Chinese. (Was 
that a function of the particular 
Chinese translator's beautiful voice 
and diction? Have recent events 
created so much anger in me against 
some people who speak Russian or 
Arabic that part of me simply closes 
down?) One day of that was enougho 

At the Forum, the scene was com- 
pletely different: colorful, noisy, 
full of energy and life, with a mul- 
titude of causes being freely 
presented and debated „ Here were the 
corridors and open spaces of a univer- 
sity building, packed with booths, 
wall hangings, posters, notices of 
meetings and workshops, exhibits of 
handicrafts, buttons and banners of 
all kinds for sale or for giving 
away. One could wander happily for 
hours, just looking at things and 
people, admiring the infinite diver- 
sity of the traditional dress in which 
women from a I I parts of the world 
adorned themselves. If the vibes were 

largely negative at the UN Conference, 
here they were positive, upbeat, heady 
with the air of freedom. Among the 
dozens of workshops and seminars announ- 
ced daily were groups around wages 
for housework, lesbian rights, 
employment, health, abuse of pharma- 
ceuticals, breastfeeding, appropriate 
technology, among many others. 

I walked into a room where 
Iranian women were about to show a 
film about their Islamic Revolution. 
It was packed, with many standing at 
the sides and back of the room. An 
Iranian woman was talking and answering 
questions while we waited for the film 
to be delivered. She spoke excellent 
American-English (learned in the United 
States where she grew up and attended 
a state university). She wore "modest 
dress", rather than the chador, which 
means that she was completely covered, 
with a headscarf over her hair, but 
did not wear the veil. During the 
weeks just preceding the Copenhagen 
conference the news media had been 
reporting two events which raised 
grave questions about the status of 
women in Islamic countries. There 
had been the TV docu-drama, Death of 
a Princess, about the execution of 
Saudi Arabian woman for eloping 
without her male relatives' consent. 
And there was the case of the 
Iranian "student militant" who had 
become pregnant by one of the 
American hostages, and whose brother, 
when she told him, executed her by 
hanging. And the week preceding the 
conference, five thousand Iranian 
women who were government workers 
had demonstrated in the streets of 
Tehran against the "modest clothing" 

So I raised my hand with a question: 
"What are the rights of women under 
Islamic law? The women in this room 
are interested to know what her 
relation is to a brother, father, or 
grandfather, and whether he has the 
right, under Islamic law, to rule 
over her, even to the taking of her 


Her reply, "I don't know what 
context you speak from,, <>. but in 
Islam women are equals to men Most 
women prefer the traditional role 
secured for them by the Revolution, 
in which they enjoy the protection 
of a male. Male protection prevents 
women from being abused or exploited,," 
A murmur of incredulity passed over 
the crowded room. Then an English 
woman asked directly about the woman 
who was hung by her brother. "Well, 
her brother was arrested..." we 
were told, and suddenly it was time 
to see the film of the Iranian 
Revolution. This brief interchange 
was typical of the kinds of encounters 
among women at the Forum; even though 
we were plainly from opposite sides 
of deeply felt convictions, there 
: at least was the possibility and arena 
for dialogue. 

Such dialogue often painfully 
displayed the gaps and dissonances 
in consciousness, especially when 
women of the Northern Hemisphere 
and women of the Southern Hemisphere 
faced each other on issues such as 
female genital mutilation in small 
[ tribal societies in Africa. A 
seminar had been called by Swedish 
women to discuss what was seen as a 
tragic and cruel form of violence 
against women (cl itoridectomy) as 
oppression and as a means of maintaining 
the subjugation of women, and to discuss 
how best to oppose the practice,, 
The African women were angry and offend- 
ed. To them it was just another ex- 
ample of imperialistic attitudes, of 
Europeans deploring "savage barbarism," 
and they were highly insulted. Many 
of these women were struggling to main- 
tain some of the values of their 
! traditional cultures against the 
I ravages of an alien mechanistic, 
. technological, materialistic invasion 
of western culture, felt by them as 
"the rape of Africa,," They wanted 
liberal do-gooders to stay away from 
their traditional practices, to worry 
about removing oppression in their 
own countries, and asserted "We don't 
like it, we have to change it in our 
own way, in our own time, and in the 

context of our own culture." Tough 
lessons for liberal Swedes and others! 

At the Glyptotek Gallery a very 
different set of events was 
happening: films, slide shows, lectures 
and exhibits every day by women artists 
from the world. Betye Saar, member 
of the Advisory Council of The Creative 
Woman , and guest editor of our special 
issue on women in art, was there, 
showing her film "Spirit Catcher," 
lecturing, and appearing at a symposium,, 
The organizers of the International 
Festival of Women Artists had arranged 
for all of the artists who had been 
invited to participate in the festival 
to be housed and entertained in the 
homes of Danish women in the arts. 
The stimulation and ferment, the 
cross-fertilization of ideas, the 
wonderful sense of shared affirmation 
of each other's struggles and triumphs, 
provided high points of the 
Copenhagen experience,, 

Then there were the real working 
groups, the UN committees who worked 
daily for ten days on resolutions and 
reports, to whose deliberations this 
reporter was not privy, 

There are many revolutions going 
on in the world today The women's 
movement is only one, but it is a 
critical one,, I heard Palestinian 
women say "I'll fight for equality 
after I've won the battle for free- 
dom." I heard an African woman say, 
"Equal rights may interest me after 
I've won the right to survive." 
An American black woman told me, 
"Racism is the first enemy; after 
we've licked that, we'll talk 
about sexism." For the Bolivian 
women, their return home meant re-entry 
into a country that had been taken over 
by a military junta, and in which 
they might be jailed or killed, for 
a I I they knew. 

If we look at the position of 
women worldwide, the inescapable 
conclusion is that we are in many 
ways worse off now than we were in 
1975 when the UN declared the 


International Year of the Woman e 
Economic crises and wars wreak a 
special havoc on women. Refugees now 
number fourteen million! Since 
November 1979, when the Soviets invaded 
Afghanistan, another million has 
been added to that ghastly figure. 
Of all refugees, worldwide, two-thirds 
are women and children., Of the 
Afghans who are now in camps in 
Pakistan, 90$ are women and children,, 
Refugee women need every kind of 
support service that can be imagined, 
from nutritional and basic shelter 
to health, family planning, child 
care, and ways to become economically 
capable of survival in a foreign land. 
The plaintive cry of the eternal exile, 
"How shall I sing the song of the 
Lord in a strange land?" is heard 
from mi I I ions of voices. Whoever has 
ears to hear, let them hear! 

Well, yes, it was many confer- 
ences,, I only observed a small frac- 
tion of the goings-on in Copenhagen 
The real conference was probably taking 
place in the many small committee 
meetings of the UN where women met and 
talked and argued and discussed and 
presented plans for action, for hours, 
days, and nights for two weeks,, For 
a delegate from the Netherlands, 
Letitia van den Assum, this was the 
exciting reality and meaning of the 
UN conference,, Resolutions were 
passed, to be taken back to home 
governments, that can change the 
situation and status of women in the 
worldo Concrete political, social, 
economic gains can be made,, In the 
welter of many voices, some raised 
in anger and hatred, the positive 
aspects of Copenhagen may be lost. 
In the long march of women toward 
peace, freedom and eguality, 
Copenhagen may indeed be appreciated 
as another stepping stone,, At the 
very least, several thousand women 
went home with something new to 
think about, talk about and share,, 


Gnandma Hose* bzgan painting at 
ago. 80 becxwusz hen h^geAS wene. no 
Zongen. nimbJLe. enough faon. nee.dJLeu)onk. 
We one hoAJi to 1,000 oh heA painting* 
and at age. 100 she. hound time, to do 
25 mo fie. 

At 92 Ge.on.gz BeAnand Shaw was 
wniting play* 

At 91 Eamon de. ValeAa seAve.d a* 
pn.ejtiide.nt oh JneJband 

At 89 Albent SchwettzeA headzd 
a hospital in Afintca. 

At 87 Konnad Ade.nau.eA was chanceJUUon 
0& Genxmny. 

Foun yeaAS ago, at 80, Geonge. BuAns 
won an academy awand &on hit> peAhonmance. 
in "The Sunshine Boy*," 

Ton SO yean* Anthun. Fiedten and 
the. Boston Pops 0nche*tAa bnought the 
joys oh music, to million* night up 
to his death last yean at age. 84. 


-Everything hurts, and what doesn't 

hunt, doesn't wonk. 

-You feel like the morning after the 

night before, and you haven't be.en 


-You join a health club and then you 

don't go. 

-You hear the phone ring and hope it 

Isn't hon you. 

-Your mind savs "an" but unit* body 

*ay* "no." 

You send your picture to the lonely 

hearts club and the.y se.nd it back. 

-The problem now is not in resisting 

temptation but in h^^dUng it. 

-When thoughts of passion twin to 

thoughts oh pension. 

-When you go to the dentist to get 

youn dentxxAejs cappe.d. 

-When all the phone numbers in your 

little black book one. docton*' . 

(adapted from Keen-Ager News, 
August 1980. Catholic Charities 
of Chicago) 


Delina Pearl Ziemer, grandmother of graphic designer Suzanne Oliver, 
Thanksgiving, 1972. Photo taken by Ruth Thorne-Thomsen. 

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